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Birgit Braunstein

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Region: Austria
Terroir: Burgenland

Birgit Braunstein began making wine on her family's vineyard in 1990, taking on a 400-year tradition that stretched back to 1632. In the lee of the enormous Neusiedlersee, she cultivates 55 acres (22 hectares) of vines in the sought-after and climatically favourable foothills of the Leithagebirge. Gamay, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Riesling vines are all sheltered from extremes of temperature by the lake's microclimate and the hilly terrain. 

The climatically protective nature of the lake provides gentle warmth by day (bringing the grapes to full ripeness) and cools by night (preventing the tendency toward 'jamminess' that excessive heat can produce), encouraging a lively acidity. This, plus the long growing season, means that Birgit's wines display exceptionally pure fruit, beautifully developed tannins, balance, precision and elegance. 

The range of soil types within the vineyard - gneiss, mica, slate, chalky limestone, marl and clay - means that a single grape variety (for instance Pinot Noir) can take on an extraordinary range of qualities when grown in the different soils: some bursting with fruit, others displaying a notable minerality. This is particularly apparent if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to taste a range of Birgit's wines at one sitting.

Birgit bottles only about 8,000 cases of wine annually - produced on organic and biodynamic principles with no pesticides and extremely low use of sulphur. Dedicated to her terroir and with family roots of such depth, it is unsurprising that Birgit's farming practice is close to nature and entirely respectful of her landscape and its history.  

To her delight, Birgit's twin sons are now studying viticulture and oenology, thus ensuring the continuation of her family's winemaking tradition.