Weninger Balf

Weninger Slide 

who? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes at Weninger Balf? who makes the wines?

Franz Weninger moved from Austria in 2000 to take over and revive the vineyards that his father had purchased in Sopron, Hungary a few years before.  Franz oversees the 22 hectaires and is the winemaker as well.  He is a leading proponent of Blaufränkisch, known locally as Kekfrankos, as a noble grape that has a unique ability to express the soil and terroir of individual sites.  
Hungarian Wine Blaufrankisch Weninger Durua

Franz Weninger: Photo Credit: Winery

what wines do they make at Weninger Balf?

Sopron is red wine country, and it is thought to be the historical point of origin of Kekfrankos.  For reasons that speak to centralized control and the region’s Communist past, the area, and the Weninger’s vineyards were planted to a large mix of local and international varieties in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s but Kekfranos is the future.  Franz includes some of these varietals in the Sopron cuvée where Pinot Noir and Merlot are blended with a majority of Kekfrankos.

Franz believes that the region’s future fame depends on the expression Kekfrankos from different soil types.  The result is that between the family’s estate a few miles away in Austria and their holdings in Sopron, they make six single vineyard wines from this grape.  The differences are as clear, and as exciting, as those that we have found between soils types at Domaine de L’Ecu and Domaine de la Louvetrie in Muscadet.  

Kekfrankos Blaufrankisch Weninger Hungarian Wine

Kekfrankos at Weninger in Soprom: Photo credit: Winery

Weninger BALF WHAT

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when did Weninger Balf start?

Franz Weninger’s father, Franz Ludwig Weninger, purchased the estate in Hungary in 1997 when the border between the two countries began to open.  In 1999, Franz returned to Austria after completing university and internships abroad and took over production at Weninger Balf in Sopron.  In 2006, the estate was converted to Biodynamics, and in 2011, Franz Ludwig retired.  As a result, Franz oversees both Weninger Balf and Weninger Hortishon in Austria.
Kekfrankos Blaufrankisch Weninger

80+ year old vines at Weninger

Franz is quick to remind anyone interested in the history of wine in Hungary that 90 years ago, there was no border and the wine region’s center was Sopron. It was in that town that all trade was focused. Old vines, like those pictured here are more common in Austria where independent traditions were maintained. In many ways, the region’s roots are being rediscovered (and re-imagined) as Hungary re-emerges as an open market.

where is Weninger Balf?

The region of Sopron is located on the far eastern edge of Hungary.   The village of Balf is nearby, between the southern end of Lake Neusiedl and the Sopron mountains.  It creates a unique micro-climate that the Weninger’s describe as follows, “The foothills of the Alps bring coolness, the lake stores warmth, and the ground willingly submits to cultivation.”  The soils in the vineyards at Balf are Gneiss and Mica Schiste whereas in Austria at Weninger Hortischon, the soils are limestone, chalk and slate.


Weninger BALF WHERE

why is Weninger Balf a Candid Wine? why might you try a bottle?

Franz Weninger is a thoughtful, driven young man who is fascinated by the potential of Blaufränkisch / Kekfrankos to show the terroir where it grows.  He farms without chemicals and with an open mind. We are thrilled that Circo Vino has connected us to Franz and his family, and fell strongly that coming to know the wines will be as exciting to our customers as the process of coming to know the glories of single vineyard Muscadet has been.   
Weninger Balf Blaufrankisch Kekfrankos 

how is the wine made at Weninger Balf?

Winemaking begins with biodynamics in the vineyard at Weninger.  It was not always this way as Franz and his father applied conventional techniques at the start of their adventure in Hungary, but they began their conversion fairly quickly as they realized that the excitement in their project lies in unlocking each site and that natural farming was the only path that would satisfy their curiosity.

Franz feels that a lot of winemakers in Austria have been copying other areas – Bordeaux in the 1980’s with lots of tannin extraction and oxygenation, Burgundy in the 1990’s and now some try to copy Hermitage.  As a result, there are few truly traditional wines being made.  At Weninger, Franz tries to recreate the wines of his grandfather, which means relatively small, open fermenters, and a wide surface for the cap.  Acknowledging the natural acid and tannin of the grape, he tries to limit extractions with shorter macerations and limited punchdowns.

Weninger Balf Biodynamic Farming

Biodynamics at Weninger