Südstiermark, Austria

In 2004, when he was just 26 years old, Ewald Tscheppe took over his fathers farm in Südstiermark, Austria, and began his own winemaking journey. Simplicity is key for Ewald, he believes ultimately in the health and biodiversity of the vineyard, and that should the farming be correct, the quality of the resulting fruit will allow for a simple, uncomplicated, honest style of winemaking that will produce wines of great expression and clarity - the name applied to three of his cuvées, Ex Vero means ‘the truth’ or ‘from the truth’. 

To work in harmony with nature, to explore their craft and rhythms and needs of their land is utmost for Ewald and his wife Brigitte.

Their farm totals around 18 hectares, with 8 hectares dedicated to vines on the hills around the winery, planted on opok (chalky marl) and clay. The soil at the bottom of the hill is more complex and fertile and as you proceed to the top there is less topsoil and more exposed rock, the vines are exposed to more wind at these heights. Because of the varying terroir of the hill, for certain cuvées Ewald harvests and vinifies according to what section of the slope the grapes are growing on. The Ex Vero I is from the bottom, Ex Vero II from the mid section, and Ex Vero III is from the more exposed top part of the hills.

Due to his personal inclination, and also because of the incredibly steep hills, no tractors are used in the vineyards, with all work being carried out by hand. The vines have been certified biodynamic since late 2004 and Ewald works with riesling, sauvignon blanc and morillon (chardonnay) which is common in this region (wine has been made here since Roman times), though his techniques in the cellar are perhaps slightly less conventional. 

Using many techniques according to his intuition and knowledge of what nature has given in any given year, Ewald harvests early to retain acidity, but then may employ battonage, maceration, extended lees contact and various wooden vessels for elevage to balance the minerality and acidity, and bring his wines to life. all cuvées are aged for a minimum of 18 months in barrel, Ewald feels that this is essential to help them reach what he feels is their true potential.

Ewald’s brother Andreas is also a vigneron and they, along with a breathtakingly diverse and exciting group of likeminded farmers, are the stalwarts and torchbearers for the Austrian natural winemaking community. This next generation of farmers and innovators are garnering much notice within Austria and further afield. Names such as Preisinger, Tscheppe, Tschida, Schnabel and Gut Oggau are well known now, and their successes both in an ecological and financial sense are weakening the resolve of even the most severe of natural wine sceptics - and are continuing to bring joy and excitement to those of us already firmly on side.