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Kärnten / Carinthia, Austria

Sem Kegley came to Vienna to study music. He remained to become a pioneer winemaker in Kärnten. With his business partner Georg Lexer, they have created a culinary destination centered around their excellent restaurant Auf Der Leiten, which reveals itself to also be a working winery, farm, and vineyard estate of nearly 10 hectares.

The Karnburg Winery is located in the northern part of the Klagenfurt am Wörthersee region of Kärnten, a terroir blessed with stony soils and higher-than-average sunlight. First planted in 2005, the land of Georg Lexer’s family produced its first harvest in 2007, and in 2012 the wine cellar and restaurant were completed.

The stunning stone and timber structure blends into the vernacular architecture of the region, but inside reveals an upper floor restaurant and a lower-floor event space and tasting room clad in massive stone blocks salvaged from a demolished bridge. The wine cellar itself was designed with an open plan, anticipating the founders’ vision for growth. It was also organized as a gravity cellar – from the arrival of fruit to the fermentation vessels, no pumps are used to transport the evolving wine, resulting in the gentlest handling possible of the estate’s Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, and white varietals.

Most of Sem and Georg’s wines are made as single-vineyard bottlings from their Leiten vineyards surrounding the winery, the America vineyard near Karnburg, or their newest vineyard Leonhardweide near Stegendorf, where the pair have begun to experiment with exclusively PIWI varieties. With a restaurant and a cellar married as they are, the wines are clearly designed to complement food and good company.

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