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Vino Gross

In northeast Slovenia, located between Austria, Croatia and Hungary, you find the Štajerska Slovenija wine region. Near the town of Ptuj, some of the healthiest and most scenic vineyards we have ever seen are rooted. These are the vines of the Vino Gross winery.

Here, Maria and Michael Gross are dedicated to tending their land biodynamically, and guiding their grapes from vineyard, to cellar, to bottle in the most transparent way possible. They are two of the region’s brightest young stars and have been achieving extraordinary results since launching their own brand in 2016.

All photographs by @stellakager

Maria and Michael Gross

People: Maria and Michael Gross

Place: Štajerska Slovenija — more precisely in the Haloze region, near the town of Ptuj

Varieties: Furmint, Laški Rizling (Welschriesling), Renski Rizling (Riesling), Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer

Farming: Organic, currently in transition to biodynamic

Hectares: 25

Did You Know? Maria and Michael are focusing on exploring the Furmint grape variety. They went to Tokaj to learn more about the variety, and also visited Michael Wenzel in Rust, in the Austrian wine region of the Burgenland. Michael is renowned for his work with Furmint, and he organised for Maria and Michael to plant some high-quality selections from Tokaj.

We interviewed Michael Gross. 

Maria and Michael began working organically in 2014 and decided to pursue organic certification in 2018. Michael says,

“It was clear to us that we wanted to work organically. At the beginning, I didn’t think it was important to have the organic symbol on the labels, but now — as we export a lot of wine —I can understand the importance of it. When people look at the label and see the symbol, they can recognise your work, and your way of thinking.”

He explains that they are fortunate to work in an area that historically has not seen industrial farming. He explains,

“We work with such amazing vineyard sites. As there wasn’t much money in the region in the past, there also wasn’t big investment here, and hence herbicides weren’t used. There haven’t been the same mistakes made in the region like the ones you see in Germany and Burgundy, where heavy farming methods have been used. Here, you find in nature what existed here 100 years before. Nature is abundant, and we have healthy soils. I think that is why our wines have so much expression and life — because our soils are in such good condition. The land has been very well preserved.”

He tells us that it took a while for him to appreciate how the vineyards were planted:

“The vineyards are planted on terraces, with a lot of space between the rows. We have just 2000 vines per hectare, whereas the norm is between 4000 and 6000. When we first moved here, I thought, this isn’t good… we need more vines per hectare. But now, I realise how important the space is. Because we have so few vines, it means that we have so much diversity in the vineyards. There are many species of trees and plants, which means we also have so many insects working with us and for us. Now, I see it as a fortune, not the opposite. I really love these big terraces and the low density.”

They are also transitioning to biodynamic farming, having signed the conversion contract with Demeter.

“The wines we love the most are the ones made by biodynamic winemakers. Those wines have a certain vibrancy — a kind of light — something different. Wines which are made in the conventional way don’t have that at all. It’s hard for me to believe in the Cosmos elements of biodynamics, but I see it more from the farming side. Working with teas, being less aggressive in the vineyards… in the end you see that the vines are more vibrant and have more...

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