For this collaboration with Wine Life Today, Anna Von Bertele, wine specialist at Roberson Wine discusses her meeting with a special winemaker.

I love meeting someone I have read about and discovering if they are how I imagined them. This week I met Marion Ebner-Ebenauer, a winemaker from Austria who on paper I really admired and respected. In the flesh she did not disappoint. The first thing that struck me about Marion when reading about her was the way she got into winemaking. Many producers inherit their estates from their ancestors – of course an obvious reason to go in to the wine industry. However, for someone not from a wine background to decide to be a winemaker and then achieve that aim is a bold and brave decision.

How Marion became a winemaker

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At the age of 14, Marion decided to go to wine school – the only girl there and without a family estate to go back to work on, she had her work cut out. With vineyards being very expensive, especially for a teenager, she started her career as a négociant, buying fruit from Schloss Göbbelsburg. She was making her own Grüner Veltliner by the age of 20 and quickly made a name for herself as one of the most exciting young winemakers in Austria through her experimental technique of ageing Grüner in oak.

At wine school she met Manfred Ebenauer, with whom she fell in love and later married. He did come from a winemaking family, so when they married in 2007, they took over Manfred’s family winery, creating Ebner-Ebenauer. The winery provided lots of opportunities for the young couple. The vineyards are in various locations. Originally this was a measure to protect against hail, to guard against the probability of the entire crop being ruined by one storm. Now it means they have grapes from diverse soil types, meaning they can produce a wide range of single vineyard wines. Many of their vines are also old – 60 years in some cases – which adds great complexity and individuality to the finished wine.

 A good insight into winemaking

Marion gives a very clear impression of what it is like to be a winemaker. People might think it is a romantic job, but working for 20 hours a day during harvest doesn’t sound romantic to me! In Marion’s words, ‘harvest is a war.’ Her passion for her job shines through and her pride in her wines is evident. Marion came across as very determined and ambitious – she even admits to preferring a difficult vintage as this offers a challenge. Obviously she thrives under pressure.

Marion Ebner-Ebenauer is a winemaker to look out for – young, down-to-earth and dynamic, she will keep experimenting and practicing, continually improving and extracting from her grapes and her land the best wine possible.