Generational changes are frequent in vineyards; and all too often, the new generation wants to change everything. What innovation potential is there in a top operation such as the one managed by Roman and Adelheid Pfaffl, which has been run in an exemplary fashion for many years? It is a challenge of a special kind for Roman Josef Pfaffl and his sister Heidemarie Fischer, who are now in charge of running the vineyard.
Our children should have it better than we did” is the motto many parents have. In this sense, Roman and Adelheid Pfaffl have accomplished a lot. They started in 1978 with a threequarter hectare and a mixed agriculture operation, and turned it into a vineyard with 80 hectares, which is considered the crème de la crème in Austria. The vineyards are spread across the southern part of the wine region Weinviertel in almost a dozen municipalities. Their operation also includes land in Vienna: “That’s because we picked the locations we liked,” says the couple.
Roman Josef Pfaffl, 27, who took over the management of the vineyard with his sister Heidi, thinks that one or more locations will be added. “This is how our parents did it,” he says. “Expansion is not our primary goal, but we believe in the future of the wine, and if good locations are for sale, we just have to buy them.” The vineyard’s locations are already superb. They mostly consist of Aeolian silt deposits and are ideally suited for the Grüner Veltliner (as from the top location Hundsleiten) or in the southern Zeiseneck location with a significant component of shell lime, which can be seen in fossils there.
“Mister Veltliner” is what friends and critics like to call Roman Pfaffl Senior, while his son has been showing his talent for red wines for quite some time now. Their Zweigelt, St. Laurent, and Pinot Noir wines have already won several awards. It is clear: These wines can always be added or experimented with but it must comply with the high quality standard of the Pfaffl wines. This will not be hard for the young Pfaffls, as they have inherited the joy and the love of the winemaker profession from their parents.
Roman Josef knows that wine can become a science, but he asks: “Is that necessary?” Definitely not. “What counts the most is that I like to drink the wine I have in my glass, that I am having fun. Regardless of whether it costs 5 or 50 Euro,” he says. It is easy to believe that making wine is really a lot of fun, because the two young winemakers talk passionately about their wines.
Most of their wines are exported. The world is simply becoming more global. Roman Josef believes that the regional wines will increasingly gain importance. Grüner Veltliner, St. Laurent, Zweigelt: “These varieties, which stand for Austria, still have a great future ahead of them”, the winemaker assures. There is nothing wrong with using means of communication that are trend-setting. This is why Roman Josef has produced small video clips, in which he presents his wines in a capable and casual manner. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are also important marketing forums. A love of wine is also a love of communication; enjoyment is better when shared with friends. The young Pfaffls have definitely mastered this part of the business. After all, it’s fun! Of course, there will be changes ahead, with the keyword being climate change. “We are now planting Grüner Veltliner on locations where before, only Müller-Thurgau and other early varieties would have been planted,” Roman Josef explains. That will change the characteristics of the wine in the long run, even though until now, global warming has not been a real problem yet for the Pfaffls. The young winemakers are, however, thinking about how they could decrease the vineyard’s CO2 emissions. Organic is a term that is not far reaching enough for them. “I also have to think about the CO2 emission from the tractor, how I heat and cool my rooms, where I get my electricity from, and how my wine is packaged,” he adds.
First steps have already been taken by their parents, but now the young generation is at the helm: heat pumps, photovoltaic systems, warm water heaters powered by solar cells. The increasingly new media which are used to market wines absolutely fits into their concept: “What bothers me is flying all over the world to offer our wines,” Roman Josef criticises his own carbon footprint.
the Hundsleiten and other Pfaffl top wines, and possibly more red wines. Already, the wines suit the modern taste of consumers completely: fruity, juicy, balanced, and not too heavy. Easy to drink, or, as Roman Josef Pfaffl words it, “They are just fun.” And that is the goal. “I want to make good wines. I want to get better and better, and hopefully in a way that can benefit everyone – me, my employees, my customers, the environment, and hopefully future generations,” he says. A simple principle. Fun seems to be hereditary.
Weingut R&A Pfaffl
A-2100 Stetten, Österreich
Tel. +43 2262 673423
Fax +43 2262 673423-21