Michael Wenzel has been imported by us since the very beginnings of Winemonger and no producer in our portfolio has undergone a more profound transition in his winemaking style in this time.
Even more remarkable is that Wenzel's transition was not one from good to great,- he started from great. In fact Wenzel's wines were as highly regarded then as they are now, and Michael's decision to throw out a successful model and venture off onto new and unproven terrain was certainly not an easy one.
But Michael had found himself at a crossroads, realizing that his somewhat traditional approach to the varieties of his region and the winemaking practices he had employed up until then, was becoming stale and boring to him.
It was the autochthonous variety Furmint that had really captured Michael's imagination and interest. Almost simultaneously producers in Friuli, Styria and the Loire started to experiment with long-forgotten winemaking techniques that would soon be referred to as "natural" and later become a household name of the more adventurous crowd of wine consumers. This too had grabbed Michael's attention and he saw the potential to marry the two ideas into a new, entirely different Wenzel winery.
And so it began: using many decades of experience and employing the same attention to detail, Michael started to make wines that were a far departure from his former self. Autochthonous varieties, low sulfur, native yeast, and organic farming became the hallmarks of Wenzel's wines, while he experimented with skin contact in his line of natural wines called Wild&Free.
Finally, these new wines also needed a new face and as luck would have it, someone with just the right skill-set had entered Michael's life, his better-half Sonja, an accomplished photographer with an eye for design and visual communication.
Today we are every bit as happy to offer Wenzel wines as we were on day one, but it is due to this complete metamorphosis that we are now finding ourselves selling very different Wenzel wines, exhibiting them at the RAW wine show and selling them to the natural wine bars and stores of New York, San Francisco and LA.
And Michael keeps surprising us by getting more curious and innovative with every new vintage.