Linzer-Orosz Winery, Sopron

We’ve been to Fertőrákos, the village of Enikő Luka and Ráspi. Next to the table, a snow-white cat with one brown and one blue eye blinks in the sun. The Professor. The flames crackle in the stove of the beautifully renovated TSZ pub, while by the table three Poncichters (the German name for Sopron grape producers) share Sopron’s fairy tale winemaker legend. Csaba and Balázs Orosz are siblings and they both have beards, while their friend, Samu Linzer, smiles continually and pours out his stories. And we also tasted the wines: Zweigelt and Kékfrankos.  

Samu Linzer: A Sopron Poncichter, or Bohnenzüchter – that is bean grower, has at least three barrels in the cellar under the house. One for financing the next year, one for keeping the family and one for putting aside for extraordinary events. Because there used to be enough of it in this region.

 

Csaba Orosz: Beans grew well next to the grapes, they provided nitrogen to the roots and good fuel for hoeing could be made from them. At my grandparents, the menu was always bean sterz, peppery-creamy bean pastry and bean dumplings. 

 

Péter Orosz: Samu’s ancestors and our family used to live from the same thing: wine. The local poncichters didn’t build their houses on the hill, among the grapes, but in the town, in Sopron. The cellar under the house partly provided security – according to the right given by the town, anyone who had more than three barrels could have their own Buschenschank, a wine tavern.

 

 

Cs.O.: Where they sold white wine, white linen hung from the trading sign, where they sold red, it was red. At better families – such was the house of the Stubenvoll grandad and Willfing grandma – they had both. Before phylloxera, the white grape was more typical around here, but after driving out the ‘evil bug’, our ancestors replanted the wine region fundamentally with Kékfrankos.   

 

S.L.: Our grapes grow above the reeds of Lake Fertő, on thick limestone soil. As nice as the Weninger wines harvested from the Sopron gneiss and mica soil with their minerality are, our wines can be just as exciting with their fresh, crispy fruit notes given by the limestone in our vineyards. That’s exactly our aim: from the harvest to fermentation and ageing, what occupies our mind throughout is how we can make even juicier, fruitier Kékfrankos. And also to forget for good the often mentioned exaggerated acidity and bitter finish regarding our wine region.

 

 

Cs.O.: We grew up with winemaking, we hoed and pruned with our grandparents. If our parents allowed us to go out on a summer evening, we knew that we had to be in the vineyard by five in the morning. Although our grandparents were wine producers and wine merchants, me and Balázs inherited our parents’ economist blood. And also three hectares of vineyard, as should be done in every proper Sopron family. We continued where we left off at our childhood: iron grinder, iron slide, old barrels… We didn’t make nice wines. But we had a friend who worked in Austria at professional wineries. We used his lab for the first wines. He came to the cellar, saw the old press, the rammed earth floor and he said we should stop that at that moment. He was Samu Linzer.

 

P.O.: In fact, we started off as a ‘proper’ winery when in the summer of 2012 in Szolnok, we got wasted with Samu and slapped each others’ hands and said we should do it properly or we shouldn’t do it at all.

 

 

S.L.: I was three years old when I accidentally started the engine of the family tractor. I smashed into the big gate with it, which was the only reason it stopped. Everybody in the family was screaming or swearing at me, depending on their temperament, and only my grandad was laughing his head off saying: let him be, this is what makes a peasant kid. I’m still attracted to tractors, I’m actually making one right now.

On the Austrian estate where I work, I have an 84-year-old master, Johannes Hohler. He teaches me things that are not written down anywhere, things they don’t tell you at school. I’m really grateful to him.

I inherited a perfect plot from my dad: four hectares of old cooperative vineyard. Single cordon vines, rows designed for the MTZ tractors, gapped lines of vines. Earlier, if the pruning shears became blunt in the hands of a peasant, they just cut out a vine and got warm next to its fire. In Austria, I learnt that we can’t do it that way. Since then we changed to mid-height cordons, we replanted whatever we could, mainly with the varieties of the wine region: Zweigelt, Kékfrankos and Grüner Veltliner.

 

P.O.: Samu makes the wine, he’s the best at it in the team. I’m going to the viticulturist-oenologist school now, and I’m in charge of the grapes. Csaba remained the economist, he’s in charge of the sales and marketing side. It was his idea that instead of the nice-sounding but impersonal Winelife name, we should name the winery with our names. That’s how we became the Linzer-Orosz winery. We shape the style of the wines together. During the communist years, everybody was drinking the soft, friendly Szekszárd wines, and only the local patriots drank Sopron wines. What they used to say about the wine here was that you had to turn around twice in bed so that the acids wouldn’t burn only one part of the stomach.  

 

 

S.L.: Perfect raw material, quickly processed must fermented with yeast that is right for the variety, plus an immaculately clean cellar and barrels. Only a small part of our barrels are new, most of them we bought from the Eszterházy estate and we also got some as a gift from Schwarz, a fantastic Austrian winemaker from Andau. 

 

P.O.: Sopron is a strange place. Everybody has a few nice memories from here. The VOLT Festival, the Tűztorony (Fire tower), the Ráspi restaurant. In wine, we also have great personalities but Sopron wine as such is not yet trendy. That’s what we are working on, to make exciting, flavoursome, friendly and great wines at the Linzer-Orosz Winery, here on| Fertőrákos’ main street, in the place that used to be the village’s best bowling alley.