STK: each for themself and yet together
Nature doesn’t stand still
The world has nearly ground to a halt, but nature doesn’t take time out for COVID-19. She soaks up every golden ray of sunshine and every raindrop with her customary thirst. In the vineyards the vines are rapidly growing. Vineyard work is crucial for the winegrowers at this time of year – this is when the groundwork is laid for the harvest in autumn. The tasks in the vineyard must therefore be performed with special urgency. But differently than usual.
June 2019: STK winegrowers at the vintage presentation; the legendary tasting will not be held this year.
At the Lackner-Tinnacher estate there is a team of eight persons in the vineyard of Ried Steinbach. They are taking advantage of beautiful weather to bind the vines to the wires. And although they worked side by side last year, this time the hands keep a safe distance of two to three rows of vines – about five to seven metres – between them. ‘All of our workers are being marvellously cooperative and responsible. Everyone pays attention to the other. It’s interesting; even though we keep our distance, we feel very close to each other’, says winegrower Katharina Tinnacher. Inside work at the estate has been reduced to a minimum. One person from the family is always alone in the office or packing wine to go, because since restaurants, wine bars & wine shops have been closed down, direct wine delivery to customers becomes more important than ever.
Binding the vines in Ried Steinbach, keeping a safe distance. © Weingut Lackner-Tinnacher
Katharina Tinnacher © Weingut Lackner-Tinnacher
It is also very quiet at the Gross family estate. The Gross team is busy outside – even the two sommeliers, and they can hardly believe their good fortune. Spring is usually the time when they present one tasting one after another for avid wine lovers. Since tasting sessions cannot currently take place, Johannes Gross invited these sommeliers to come and work in the vineyard. ‘Unexpectedly, I finally have time to experience the vines up close and learn some vineyard craft – a valuable experience for me as a sommelier, from which I will certainly benefit later on’, said Thomas Schabl, one of the two sommeliers working at Weingut Gross.
Johannes Gross © Weingut Gross
Sommelier Thomas Schabl beim Rebenbinden in der Ried Nussberg © Weingut Gross
At about the same time, Wolfang Maitz stands in the Ried Hochstermetzberg with a smile on his face and looks at a cluster of daffodils that glow bright yellow between the rows of vines. Every year these harbingers of spring return to bloom in the same place – in the middle of the vineyard next to the old Sauvignon Blanc vines. ‘I look forward to these daffodils every year, but this year they mean a lot to me. These small, delicate flowers give me the confidence that the world will keep turning’.
Daffodils in the vineyard of Wolfgang Maitz © Weingut Maitz
Wolfgang Maitz © Weingut Maitz
Some ten kilometres further along the Kranachberg, winegrower Hannes Sabathi also begins to ruminate. ‘I haven’t been this much of a farmer in twenty years’, he says. Sabathi usually spends this time of the year in the car or on airplanes – in a rush from presentation to presentation promoting his wines – and has had employees to work in the vineyards. But this year, when many of his workers have to stay at home and all presentations have been cancelled, the grower can once again get his hands dirty. Hannes Sabathi enjoys having more time to work at the basics – and to finally find the necessary tranquillity to reflect: ‘For me, this unimagined break is liberating, and I wonder: is the hectic pace of the past few years really necessary? Might less of it be enough’?
Hannes Sabathi appreciates the sudden slackening of life's tempo, and having some valuable time in his most important vineyard, Ried Kranachberg. © Weingut Hannes Sabahti
Hannes Sabathi © Weingut Hannes Sabathi
About the STK
The winegrowers’ association STK was founded in 1993 by the pioneers of viticulture in the Steiermark. Today it is the second generation at most estates that strives to investigate the terroir and the climatic peculiarities and to define together a wine language that gives expression and finds an audience for the unique nature of wines from the Steiermark.
One of the most important steps in the course of this joint work was the classification of vineyards sites, which was implemented ten years ago. This was also accompanied by uniform regulations regarding origins and standards of quality. With the 2018 vintage, the DAC regulation for the Steiermark finally came into force, in which the twelve STK estates (Gross, Frauwallner, Lackner-Tinnacher, Neumeister, Maitz, Polz, E. Sabathi, H. Sabathi, Sattlerhof, Tement, Winkler -Hermaden und Wohlmuth) played a leading role, making their experiences and successes accessible to the entire Styrian winegrowing community.
Further information on the Steirische Terroir- und Klassikweinguter can be found at: www.stk-wein.at
1190 Vienna, Austria
In difficult times like these, the special skills of entrepreneurs become apparent. These folks don’t stick their heads in the sand, but rather step forward and take the lead – one way or another. With our series #mutmachen, we want to provide a stage for all of those individuals who make a positive contribution in this critical phase, and thus encourage all of us.