"Become a vintner incidentally"
Just like at Stirbey the motto “noblesse oblige” also holds true among the Degenfeld family in Tokaj in Hungary. The wine estate of the pioneer Count Imre Degenfeld, a founder member of the Tokaj-Hegyalja Winegrowing Association in 1857, was also expropriated by the Communists at the end of the Second World War. In 1994 Countess Marie Degenfeld and her husband Dr. Thomas Lindner bought back part of the former estate at auction. Although the Degenfeld family had long since built up an existence for themselves in Germany – their emotional ties to Hungary remained intact. The Gróf Degenfeld wine estate today boasts 100 hectares with top Tokaj crus as well as a comfortable hotel. And even if Countess Marie Degenfeld prefers to leave winegrowing to her Hungarian cellar master she is still the best ambassador of the fine wines from her family from Tokaj, whether at home or abroad. She has been a familiar regular at ProWein for many years now.
Incidentally, that people can become vintners sometimes quite without intending to was something discovered by 44 year old Markus Schieber in the red wine mecca Szekszárd, also in Hungary. Graduating from the Hohenheim University of Agriculture, in 1997 he moved to the Danube plain south of Budapest where he today cultivates more than 4,000 hectares of land. Three years ago Markus Schieber and his Hungarian wife Anita, a trained lawyer, purchased a 30-hectare wine estate in Szekszárd that they have been restructuring since then with great enthusiasm.
Jürgen Wagner, a qualified oenologist with a degree from Geisenheim, also allowed himself to embark on an adventure in 1999 – only that his began in the Catalonian town of Priorato. The cooperative Celler de Capçanes with its 200 hectares of ground on stony, hard-to-access, mountainous terrain near Tarragona, has just recently caused a stir worldwide with its first kosher “Flor de Primavera”. And since then the Heidelberg-born winemaker has been writing part of a success story that has made it as far as the Wall Street Journal. In Capçanes, part of the Montsant area of cultivation, wines are made here from 100 year old Garnacha vines that feature on the menus of top star restaurants from Bensberg, Paris and New York to San Francisco, Montreal, Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok. The range of grape varieties at Capçanes also includes Cariñena and Samsó, as well as some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo. “Capçanes is my baby,” says the proud 42 year old. To ensure the company continues to grow strongly and prosper Wagner spends over three months of the year on worldwide promotion tours during which time his colleague Angel Teixido takes care of the wines in the cellar. The fixtures in Jürgen Wagner calendar do admittedly include one every year at the end of March in Düsseldorf: ProWein – which has now become the most important wine trade fair worldwide.