11 Women & Their Wines

Director Michael Haneke drives with Joschi Deininger | Photo: EastWest Film Distribution

I will side-step the many clichés in introducing a piece on women in wine – overalls and calloused hands are not key – and go straight to setting a scene:

It was at last year’s VieVinum wine exhibition at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, where throngs of winemakers were cramped, shoulder-to-shoulder, into every marbled nook of space. They vied for the attention of thirsty trade and public tasters who jostled for position, arms stretched out with wine-stained glasses at the best stands for a taste of anything beyond 10 per cent alcohol.

Behind the palace, away from the masses in the serene atrium-lit café at the Butterfly House, was a group of 11 women winemakers from Austria, showing guests a selection of their wines among the potted plants, the whiff of fresh coffee and scattered cheese platters. The pace was slow, settled and convivial, with a focus on discussion and appreciation of the harvest and each winemaker’s expression as seen through the wines.

You probably guessed which experience I enjoyed more…

The “11 Women and Their Wines” is a group that was formed, or manifested, out of a commonality of the many intangibles we seem to forget when discussing and enjoying a consumable product. Things like curiosity, tolerance, sincerity and friendship are at the heart of their work and social ethics, as they individually represent and cultivate their own wines in the market.

Together, they focus on all matters to do with wine, from discussions to reviews, from tastings to event organizations and of course  it is all done with a good amount of humour. They also make sure to embark on their yearly wine forays to various parts of Europe, which bring rich opportunities to learn from others, to make new friends and, most importantly, to remember not to take life too seriously!

The following is a selection of my favourite producers from the group, although each and every one has carved out a following based on their own individual styles and product range.


Judith Beck – Weingut Beck, Burgenland

A determined pursuit of excellence, guided by the sensitivities of a biodynamic philosophy in the vineyards, makes for a powerful vision of Beck’s wines. Continually seen as one of Austria’s top wine makers, she has worked internationally in some very high-profile estates, all with a view to produce some of Burgenland’s finest wines. Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay form the backbone of her passions, each highlighting the full expression of the vineyard with little interference through the wine making process.


Birgit Eichinger – Weingut Birgit Eichinger, Strass (Lower Austria)

Powerful, seductive and luxurious are fine descriptors of Eichinger’s wines, which focus on the regional varieties of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling that excel in this region of the Wachau. There is a singularity about the wines, emanating from a desire to edge out the grape’s potential and full expression of flavours in each cuvée.


Jutta Kalchbrenner –
Weinbau Jutta Ambrositsch, Wien

The newest inductee to the group, Kalchbrenner’s background in the design and advertising industry is aesthetically obvious when you see the wine labels and packaging. Amongst a traditional Austrian landscape, her image – both persona and wine – carves out a refreshing, whimsical and fun-filled position. Farming only three hectares throughout Nussberg, Grinzing and Sievering in Vienna’s 19th district, there is a jazzy feel to the wines, which include the local favourite Gemischter Satz.


Silvia Heinrich – Weingut Johann
Heinrich, Deutschkreutz

One of the larger, more prolific producers in the 11, Heinrich cultivates over 40 hectares of vine, 80 per cent of which is Blaufränkisch and the rest made up of local and international red varieties. Such a bold and brash display of Blaufränkisch has lent itself to multiple cuvees over the single vinevards, each with their own character and name to boot, such as the Cupido, Terra O, and Maestro, all keeping in theme with an estate that has been dated back to the time of Maria Theresa in 1767. Style here is for full ripeness and generosity of flavour, something with which the wine critics, especially in U.S., have become particularly enamoured.

Future group tastings are a must. First as a means of meeting all the 11 women and their wines, but more so to be in an environment that embodies the sensual pleasures of wine, friends and food. This part of wine culture is increasingly hard to find these days, especially with the pressures of profit and profile. It is a breath of fresh air that some light and lightness is being promoted and celebrated.

For a full list of all the women in the group, plus their upcoming tastings and events, please visit their website.



 VR_13_5_p30_11 Women Their Wine at the Butterfly House Cafe

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