The vineyards of the Wohlmuth family from southern Styria are among the steepest in Europe. At the end of a year growing wine, Gerhard Wohlmuth may as well be a hobby mountaineer as he will have climbed about as many metres in altitude. However, the charming Styrian prefers to achieve the best results with his wines, because the winegrowing family is known for its constant top ratings in all the major wine guides. Especially when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, they are undisputedly among the best in the world. Their winery covers a considerable size with 55 hectares of vineyards. Even more impressive, however, is the amount of work required per year: this amounts to 48 full-time jobs, 46 of which are needed in the vineyards. With a gradient of up to 90%, you won't get far with machines. Everything is done by hand. Anyone who is now imagining the Wohlmuths panting and groaning as they work is very much mistaken: the most frequently heard sound in the vineyard is Gerhard's resounding laughter.
«You need a lot of patience,» the winemaker admits, «not only because of going up and down the vineyard, but also because you're taking small steps over a long time. What I plant today will only really bear fruit in the next generation». The father of three sons is optimistic about the future, but he sees a big upheaval coming in the wine world: «The gap between industrial wine and artisanal wine will continue to widen.» Producing artisanal wine costs much more money and the costs will continue to rise. That's why lots of companies will soon have to decide what they want to rely on: machines or people? Mass production or wine as an art form? The Wohlmuth family only produces just under 300,000 bottles a year on their medium-sized farm. However, thanks to the consistent top quality and uniqueness of their products, their accounts work out. Much to the delight of all those people for whom wine is not simply a drink, but a cultural must-have.