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Steiermark / Styria, Austria

High quality wine-making benefits from an ecosystem of influences – climate and terroir of course, but also collaborations of quality-minded producers, agreed-upon standards for quality, the necessary infrastructure of capital and equipment, and the educational institutions required to continue to train and develop the next wave of innovators.

Steiermark’s Educational Centre for Fruit and Wine Growing and Winery Silberberg, known more simply as Silberberg , is located near Leibnitz in southern Steiermark. This state-owned institution trains students in vineyard management, winery operations, and other necessary skills required to supply the local wine industry and feed a culture of ongoing learning and innovation.

The school was founded in 1895 in reaction to the decimating effects of phylloxera in Steiermark. The Styrian government recognized that education would be necessary to rebuild the wine industry, and it purchased the site of the current school and original vineyards from the estate of Count Heinrich von Silberberg’s descendants in order to create a training center for future winegrowers.

Now, Silberberg trains nearly 100 students annually, who work the 35 hectares of both conventional and organic vineyards and produce wine exclusively from estate fruit, under the guidance of winegrowing manager Gernot Lorenz, oenologist Karl Menhart, and cellar master Klaus Fischer.

In the process, students learn all aspects of the business including vineyard management, winemaking, sales and marketing, and business operations. The wines are bottled and sold under the brand “Silberberg” as a profit-making venture for the state and are available through the onsite tasting room as well as through traditional distribution channels.

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