When Ludwig Holzer imagined how his first calendar year as managing director of the Winzer Krems would go, he wasn’t expecting a pandemic. Yet despite the unprecedented situation, Austria’s largest quality wine producer – with its 900 members and 1,200 hectares of vineyards – has shown its ability to navigate a crisis.
“Of course, it benefits us that the grocery trade has hardly suffered any losses and that people are still consuming wine at home,” says Holzer, but he also points out that Winzer Krems’ wines are flying off the shelf in Germany, despite the fact they belong in the premium sector of the market, costing more than the popular €5-and-under segment. “The numbers are very good,” he says, adding that the recent sales are a continuation of the developments of the past few years. German consumers are buying ever more wines from Winzer Krems – sales are growing at a rate of between 5% and 10%.
Germany may be the main market for the winery’s wines, but the export business is growing rapidly as well. Last year, bottled wine exports from Austria’s flagship cooperative climbed above 50% for the first time – a historic result. Now that the excellent vintage is safe in the cellar or in bottle, Winzer Krems is well positioned for the second half of the year.
It’s not the only reason that Mr Holzer is optimistic for the future.
Major building project
The largest investment project in the history of the company is going ahead, despite the turbulent times. The fermentation cellar, the bottling plant and the bottle store are all being renovated, which is a process that will take three years. Mr Holzer says the work has got off to a good start, despite Covid-19, and the plan remains on schedule.
The existing technology, including the oversight of vineyards and grape quality, has meant that Winzer Krems have managed to master the very difficult 2018 vintage – so much so, that their Grüner Veltliner Weinmanufaktur Krems 2018 was awarded White Wine of the Year by German magazine Weinwirtschaft.
Innovations are also going ahead, including the introduction of the fungus-resistant variety Donauriesling, which already looks very promising and which could help Winzer Krems achieve its sustainability goals. The new building will also play its part, because it is highly energy efficient.
There is no doubt that 2020 is an extreme year, with many more challenges ahead. But, so far, Winzer Krems is more than up to the task.
WINZER KREMS eG