The Heinrich winery has been a pioneer among Austrian producers for nearly three decades now. A country famous for it’s crisp white wines, namely Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, Heinrich took it upon themselves to showcase Austria’s autochthonous reds, Blaufränkisch, Zweigely, and Sankt Laurent in the 90s. Now, they are leading the industry in their widespread adoption of biodynamics in all of their vineyards.
One could argue that Weingut Heinrich is THE standard-bearer for biodynamic viticulture in Austria, but the husband and wife behind this ambitious project, Gernot and Heike Heinrich, are far too humble to admit it. Ironically, the two met at a beer garden more than thirty years ago in Salzburg, where Heike was working in fashion and PR. Gernot, had a family winery waiting for him, and although his parents tried their hardest to deter him from the hard work of making wine, Gernot devoted his youth to wine studies at Austria’s preeminent enology school.
His parents had less than one hectare of vineyards under their estate, but Gernot and Heike had far greater ambitions. They founded a parallel estate under their names in 2003, with two hectares in Gols. Year after year, the vintages were successful, their wines gained some renown, and they began the work of expanding the property. Small, family growers like themselves were all over the region, lamenting how difficult it was to farm some of their higher elevation, more rugged vineyards. Over time, the Heinrichs began acquiring these vineyards, where, inevitably, the best fruit was. Now, they farm 100 hectares of biodynamic vineyards across Austria.
The winery was certified biodynamic by Demeter in 2006, and they haven’t looked back since. After poring over the works of Rudolf Steiner, they came to their own idiosyncratic methods for implementing this painstaking way of caring for the land. Heike adds a parenting comparison, apt for a thoughtful mother of three: “It’s just like when you have children. You don’t sit down and say, ‘This one book will teach me all I need to know.’ Rather, you have your brain, your heart, your instincts, your intuition, your role models. It’s the same with viticulture.”
They farm soils encompassing limestone, schist, red gravel, loam, cambisol on both the Panonian plane and the Leitha mountains, seeking, above all else, authenticity in their wines. Firm exponents of the virtues of Austrian red wine, they were among the first to export their Blaufränkischs, Zweigelts, and Sankt Laurents.