The Gross family traces its farming history to the mid-18th century, with an ancestor’s purchase of a mixed farm in Ratsch, Austria. In 1907, Heinrich Gross bought a vineyard in the Witscheiner Herrenberg (ironically, now Slovenia), though it would be decades before the family specialized in wine alone, eventually taking the name Weingut Gross. In the early 1980s, Alois Gross, Johannes’ and Michael’s father, trained his attention on improving wine quality at the estate and is widely regarded as a pioneer of quality winemaking in the region. The family was quite content with things as they were. But in 2004, Alois received a handwritten letter, offering him the purchase a small house and vineyard in the viticultural area of Gorca, Slovenia. The seller, an elderly woman in Vienna, wanted to ensure that her family’s property passed into good hands. Alois saw no need to expand and so, at first, did not respond to the letter. When a postcard arrived from the same sender a few weeks later, Alois agreed to go and have a look. On a little hill, at the end of the road, was a vintner’s house surrounded by vines. Enchanted, Alois resolved to spend more time there. Soon after, Johannes and Michael visited and saw its potential straight away. They purchased the estate and began their study of the existing terroir and its fruits, restoring and replanting the vineyards where necessary. In 2011, Vino Gross was born. Since then, the family has methodically added more sites, for a total of nine hectares today. Michael points out that “having vineyards on the other side of the border is not entirely new to our family. Our first vineyard from 1907, the Witscheiner Herrenberg, is located on what is today Slovenian ground.” As of 2019, Michael and his wife, Maria, have taken on full responsibility for the estate, with, in Michael’s words, “the mentality to make unique wines, which taste 100% of the origin of where they were grown.
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