After spending many years working as a forest ranger and hunter in North America, Sighardt Donabaum returned to his native Wachau to continue the family’s long established winemaking tradition. The Donabaum family have been cultivating vines in the historic Spitz valley since 1833, with vineyards dotted around the small village of Zornberg which sits at an altitude of 450 metres above the Danube river.
Sighardt’s vineyards sit quite far inland and are therefore less affected by the moderating influence of the Danube, making the plots around Zornberg some of the coolest in the Wachau. The vines are planted on very steep slopes comprised of primary rock and scattered islands of loess topsoil. Only hand harvesting is possible here. On these plots the grapes ripen beautifully while the cool temperatures preserve the high levels of acidity and aromatic freshness. The key varieties in this region are Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, and Zornberg is particularly lauded for its plots of old vine Grüner Veltliner. Sighardt farms his 11 hectares organically and only works with natural yeasts in the cellar. His overarching aim is to make authentic wines that represent the region and his own principles of sustainable farming and winemaking.