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"Andreas and Maria Harm’s wines, as I effused in my previous report, came as a revelation to me. ...this estate is demonstrating that early harvest to promote alcoholic levity need not mean sacrificing ripe, nuanced and complex flavors." - Vinous, February 2016, by David Schildknecht
In 2016, we paid a visit to Weingut Harm at the recommendation of Alwin Jurtschitsch. Maria Harm and her husband Andreas started their winery in 2010 with some prime vineyards in the Wachau, Durnsteiner Hollerin and Kellerberg. The Harms’ focus is on terroir and making balanced wines with lighter alcohol that do not compromise on ripe fruit. Each wine carries its village and vineyard name, but because the winery itself is located outside of the Wachau (just over the border in the Kremstal), the winery cannot be a part of the Vinea Wachau, and so they do not use the designations of Steinfeder, Federspiel, or Smaragd.
Harm has nine hectares of vines (in 2017 it will be ten) nearly evenly split between the Kremstal and the Wachau. Looking out over the vineyards from a very steep hillside on the Danube, Maria described the Wachau as “a paradise lost.” All around us you could see bare ground or dry, herbicide-treated grass in most of the vineyards. In the Harm vineyards, you see a lot of bright green grass, wild flowers, and vibrant, healthy vines. As far as treatments go, they are using low amounts of copper sulfate and various plant extracts (not biodynamic, as they are not dynamized solutions). In one vineyard in the Kremstal they have planted a vegetable garden with different heirloom tomato varieties, cucumbers, peppers, herbs and garlic. In the Wachau, Maria and Andreas have apricot and peach trees as well as almond trees between the Riesling vines. “For us", Maria said, "organic viticulture is the understanding of processes in the vineyard’s ecosystem and interaction with these natural circumstances. Newly acquired parcels are of course immediately converted to organic agriculture. Andreas’ knowledge as an oeno-scientist and consultant in organic viticulture are an important instrument in this context. In his view, the vineyards are biospheres, which must be protected and supported. Through our work we can observe the return of endangered species, such as the bee-eater [a bird that’s been adversely affected by commercial farming].” It’s the same with newly-acquired old vineyards, which must carefully be re-cultivated to preserve the enormous potential of the old vines.
In 2014 they found a 500-year-old, historically interesting cellar in Krems-Stein with a constant temperature of 8°C. “For more than a hundred years it has not been used for its original purpose.” In 2014, after an intense period of adaption, the wine was for the first time pressed in the new location.
Minimalism is the obvious concept in the cellar. During the harvest, a fastidious selection of the grapes guarantees perfect initial conditions for the following laissez-faire: spontaneous fermentation! The pressed grapes “go their way” and Andreas and Maria accompany them. During the fermentation, they are very patient and they trust in the energy of their grapes and natural yeasts. A very long yeast contact is important for the character of the Harm wines, and they are mainly bottled after a one-year aging period in the tanks or wooden barrels.
We are very excited to be working with these wines and we hope you enjoy the new discovery as much as we do!