In honour of Women’s History month, we’re introducing Marion Ebner – a young and dynamic female winemaker that is pushing boundaries and making a name for herself in the male-dominated field of winemaking.
In 2011, Marion was nominated for Newcomer of the Year at the Wine Awards, but her story is not typical in the least.
Despite having no family connection to winemaking (most Austrian vintners inherit generations old wineries), at 14 she enrolled in the famous Krems School for Winery where she earned an internship in Vienna with winemaker Fritz Wieninger.
By 20, Marion started selling her first series of wines as a négociant – she collected grapes from Schloss Göbbelsburg and started making her own Grüner Veltliner called Melusine. Marion made a name for herself by experimenting with oak-ageing the grape juice, catapulting her into the spotlight as an up and coming winemaker.
I had the opportunity to taste the classic Grüner Veltliner as well as the Grüner Veltliner ‘Bürsting’. The classic Grüner is a summery and crisp white with notes of fresh apple meanwhile the Bürsting comes from older vines resulting in a more mineral taste and concentrated fruit aromas.
It was easy to see why Marion’s wine had gained critical acclaim, winning top restaurants as clients. Anna von Bertele, wine connoisseur at Roberson Wine, explains: “At the moment Marion is one of only a handful of producers in her region experimenting with single vineyard wines and oak.”
What works in Marion’s favour is that she didn’t inherit a winery so there were no traditions or expectations for her to adhere to. In the region, other producers produce the wine the same way it had been for generations.
Marion, like the wine she produces, is fresh, dynamic and full of passion. She started experimenting with sparkling wine in 2005 and I was able to sample her Blanc de Blancs ‘Zero Dosage’ – a very dry sparkling wine with an earthy minerality. It’s more complex than most Austrian sparkling wines, but is made in the traditional method.
Marion isn’t the only winemaker in Austria pushing the envelope. “I like the idea and the new wine style of Peter Veyder-Malberg here in Austria. He is a revolutionary in the Wachau, and beautifully illustrates the idea that a wine should be made not only for points – he strives to achieve elegance and brilliance instead of producing botrytis bombs!” she said in an interview with Terroirist.
The wine Marion makes is sold under the brand Ebner-Ebenauer, so who is the Ebenauer to her Ebner? Her husband, Manfred, whom she met at wine school! Manfred came from a wine family that had been making wine in Weinviertel for generations. When they married, they took over his family’s estate.
It’s no easy feat to run the estate; during harvest, she works 20 hours a day. As an artisanal vintner in Weinviertel, she is able to experiment with different terroirs in the region to bring out unique characteristics in the Grüner grapes. She also gets to see through every step of the winemaking process, but feels no ownership over the wine:
“Instead of “making” the wine, you just need to accompany the wine as it ferments and matures, with as few interventions as possible in the cellar. But in the vineyards, work as hard and rigorously as you can!” Marion says.
Carlo Pandian is an Italian expat that loves writing about wine, hyper-local food and gardening, and has previously published on Crave Local, Vino101 and Wine Expert Guide. Connect with him @carlopandian.