On Sunday, Erich Salomon of Weingut Salomon Undhof in the Kremstal region succumbed after a 5-year battle with cancer. He was 64. And on Wednesday the famed sweet-wine producer Alois Kracher was felled by the disease after being diagnosed earlier this year. He was 48.
Salomon managed the Salomon Undhof winery, located in former monastery near the banks of the Danube, from 1971 until 2002, helping to build its reputation as one of Austria's best dry table wine producers. "We will miss Erich thoroughly, but his kindness and warmth will always stay with us," the Salomon family wrote in a statement following his death. The Salomon winery will continue under the leaderships of Erich's brother, Berthold, who has overseen the operation since Erich handed over the reins to him in 2002.
Kracher, who was trained as a chemical engineer, began working at his family's winery in the small village of Illmitz near the Neusiedlersee lake, southeast of Vienna, in 1986. Harnessing the mists and humidity issuing from the lake that spur the Botrytis cinerea noble rot, he built the Kracher winery into one of the sweet-wine powerhouses of the world. His large array of sweet wines, made from Austrian specialties such as Welschriesling or international varieties such as Chardonnay, routinely won international accolades and routinely scored in the outstanding (90-94) and classic (95-100) range on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. Kracher would make 10 or more trockenbeerenauslesen (the highest-classified and sweetest wines) in a given vintage, as well as ice wines and dry wines.
Kracher, who was known as Luis, was rigorous in the vineyards, sometimes making up to eight passes through them to harvest the grapes at the peak of their ripeness. Kracher was a gregarious host and an inspiration to the generation of Austrian vintners who came of age after the Alpine country emerged from a wine adulteration scandal in the 1980s.
"He was far and away Austria's most well-known vintner and the catalyst for Austria's presence in the wine world," said his American importer Seth Allen, speaking from Illmitz. "Talking to the young guys—there were no secrets. He would tell them anything [about winemaking]. He was amazingly generous," Allen added. "He changed so many peoples' lives."
The Kracher winery will now be managed by his son, Gerhard.
Both Kracher and Salomon will be buried on Friday in separate ceremonies.
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