A portrait of WEINGUT FÖRTHOF winemaker Annika Hoffmann
Who is actually behind the WEINGUT FÖRTHOF? Who looks after our vineyards, tastes and samples the wines, creates spirits, mixes gin and distils schnapps? We met our winemaker and cellar master Annika. It wasn't easy to get an appointment, because most of the time she is in the vineyard, tending to vines, repairing stone walls, tasting the wines, bottling, cleaning the cellar, taking care of events, and tinkering with new ideas for the FÖRTHOF winery. We ask her if it can all be done in 24 hours. She smiles: "Wine is my passion, my life elixir.”
Fallen in love with ... a region
Born in 1981, Annika Hoffmann grew up in the winemaking region of Rheinhessen in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate and has lived in Austria since 2007. When asked how she came to the Wachau, she laughs: "By car! Joking aside: I came here because of love. But after a short time, it was clear to me: my love for wine was greater than my love for my then-partner. I fell in love with the wine, the landscape, and the Wachau Valley!"
Of special locations and old reeds
It was not always clear that Annika would become a winemaker. After studying viticulture and enology, however, it quickly became clear that this was the only way for her. For 14 vintages, she was the cellar master at the Tegernseerhof winery, a renowned Wachau winemaker, before taking over the FÖRTHOF winery in spring 2021. "Here, we work with old vineyards in the traditional terraces of the region and try to preserve them. The old vines are deeply rooted in the primary rock terraces. This produces wines with character. The stone terraces store the day’s heat and create a microclimate that allows the grapes to ripen beautifully."
Nature and Austrian grumpiness
We want to know what the most beautiful thing is about being a winemaker. "On the one hand, nature demands patience and endurance, and teaches flexibility. On the other hand, it is the living product, the wine, that fascinates me so much. To see how a wine develops, from the grape to the full wine itself is a never-ending story that never gets boring! Besides, for me wine always means pleasure and nice people. They are usually in a good mood and rarely ‘grantig’ (cranky!) - incidentally, another word that Austria taught me."
Austrian as Austrian can be…
Annika, who is always in a good mood, is a bit 'German' when it comes to punctuality and reliability. Everything goes according to plan and every piece belongs in its place. But Annika is a bit 'Austrian' when it comes to her optimism: "It'll be fine! We'll get it right, it'll work out."
"Safe water, drink wine!"
Her life motto "Live - Laugh - Love" is also omnipresent in conversation with the cellar master. What is her favorite drink? "Good bubbly, champagne and Riesling in all its varieties. The cabinet of Rieslings is my particular favorite. It's best to have a glass or two on Sunday mornings. Everything is fine then." Annika's wine motto: "Save water, drink wine!" A very fitting slogan.
"What counts is love and passion"
From the very beginning, the winemaker was fascinated by wine. Accompanying the wine in its development, sometimes over years, and seeing it as a living product continues to captivate Annika anew. She remarks that it’s not always easy to start a new winery in this region. But: if the product is good, it works. "Making wine is not witchcraft. What really counts is love and passion. That’s what makes the difference!"