The Alzinger family work the steep slopes of the beautiful region of Wachau. The fundamental principles of the family are to produce grapes, entirely by hand, that extract the essence of the individual vineyards and so reveal the character of each unique wine.
The modern history of Weingut Alzinger revolves around father and son team, Leo Alzinger Sr and Leo Alzinger Jr. Leo Sr is an innovator and model entrepreneur. He inherited the family vineyards in the 1970s and by the early 1980s had begun to produce and market his own wines, and developing his own personal style of winemaking. Precision, clarity, directness, elegance, and liveliness are just some of the characteristics that have been associated with his wines since early in his career, producing wines each able to tell their own stories. Although control has now passed to his son, Leo Sr still actively works in the vineyards and maintains the iconic stone walls of the Wachau region.
Leo Jr studied Viticulture in Klosterneuburg before heading abroad to continue his training in Germany’s Pfalz region at Weingut Müller-Catoir, working under the legendary winemaker Hans Günter Schwarz.
This was followed by a harvest season in New Zealand before returning to Wachau. His experiences of the various styles and methods of winemaking throughout his education confirmed his decision to continue with his father’s winemaking techniques. Leo Sr’s cool, clear, and precise winemaking style let the terrain express itself through each different vineyard and vintage and is how Leo Jr produces wine today.
It all begins with the manual work in the vineyards, which is of utmost importance. It calls for near-daily attention from mid-January until the end of October. Each vineyard has different needs and, in many cases, they need to respond to each vine individually. Necessary interventions such as gentle pruning, enhancing soil life and biodiversity, and adapting to changes in the weather help foster the health and growth of the vines.
Working by hand with the grapes helps determine the ideal time to harvest them in order to establish a balance of acidity, body and alcohol.
The Alzinger family take the conservation of the characteristic dry walls of the Wachau very seriously. The thousands of kilometres of walls have both an aesthetic and a historic purpose. Without these walls there would be no winegrowing in the steep sloped landscapes. The walls are elastic and help to evenly distribute pressure from water, protect against erosion, store heat, and provide a niche shelter for a variety of reptiles, insects, and plants. Their upkeep is a collective effort of all winemakers in the region.
Alzinger family wines reflect their origin and the conditions of the vintage. The work in the wine cellar is centred on the goal of preserving what was achieved in the vineyards: bringing together the perfect balance of each wine and individual characteristics of each vineyard into the bottle. This means as little intervention as possible before slow maturation in wooden barrels for the wines to age undisturbed. This allows for high quality expression of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, both perfect grapes to show off the uniqueness of the Wachau terroir.
Wachau itself is a rich landscape peppered with churches, monasteries, and ancient architecture across both sides of the impressive Danube. The soils of the region (gneiss, schist, loess, sand, marble, and volcanic rock) are affected by a variety of weather and environmental conditions.
The warm winds of the Pannonian Plain to the east and the cool winds of the Waldviertel north combine over the Danube to create a moderating effect for the vineyards, and the varying topography creates a series of impressive microclimates.
Alzingers’s easternmost vineyards of Steinertal appear to have the warmest conditions, but are cooled by air moving north through the valleys. Loibenberg is traversed by ditches and protected by forests, which counter the prevailing warmth. Varied topography, such as small peaks and sometimes considerable differences in altitude, influence the growth of the vines and the ripening time of the grapes, resulting in expressive, terroir driven wines vintage after vintage.