Anne Krebiehl MW is the 2019 winner of the Steinfeder Prize. In our conversation we discuss her skyrocketing career as a wine writer and the magic of citrus fruits.
For this year’s Steinfeder Prize winner, the year of the financial crisis was a game-changer. In 2008 Anne Krebiehl quit her boring job at a Bank in London. Her plan: to write about wine. The eleven years since could be described as storybook career in wine journalism. Today, Anne Krebiehl is one of the most-read authors worldwide. She writes for magazines including The World of Fine Wine, Decanter and Falstaff Germany.
You might almost think that Anne Krebiehl herself doesn’t quite believe it. After all that has happened in recent years, the Vinea Wachau Steinfeder Prize is a kind of feather in her proverbial cap, the one she has worn on her journey along what has literally been a stony path. Anne Krebiehl did not actually come to the Wachau just to collect her prize. Rather, it was to finally learn how to build dry stone walls. “It’s wonderful when a subject captures your fancy. I want to grasp wine in its every facet. Like my fellow countryman Goethe, I find all theory grey. That’s why I simply had to build a Wachau stone wall. Yesterday, for instance, I learned when a stone has a ‘face’ handsome enough for the front row,” she laughingly jokes.
As editor of US Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Anne Krebiehl covers regions including the Wachau. But that alone does not explain the close relationship between them. “When I hear ‘Wachau’, my heart murmurs ‘Riesling’,” Anne Krebiehl reports. When left with enough time between tastings, she loves to climb the Singerriedel and take in the big view. What is her secret for climbing the steep ladder to the top? “Be honest with yourself. Be good at whatever you do: deliver quality. And I have another tip, one better phrased in English: work hard.”
For something to distract her from an everyday life full to the brim with wine, Anne turns to her garden in London. There she tends the many varieties of roses she breeds. Still, her true passion is citrus fruits, plants the native German has always associated with a warm southern breeze. “If I could reincarnate, I would probably enrol in botany at the university and write my Master’s thesis on citrus fruits. They actually contain the same terpenes found in Riesling grapes.”
When I look at my tasting notes, I sometimes say to myself:
Anne, you are writing about fruit salad.
Anne Krebiehl about her passion on citrus fruits
Anne Krebiehl’s neighbours are lucky, for more than one reason. She often brings them the open bottles left over after her wine tastings at home. “My neighbours love me,” she says with a grin. “Tasting is not as easy as many think. It’s hard work. If I am supposed to blind-taste 40 Smaragd wines from the Wachau, I first spend quite some time sorting through them. Then my neighbour comes and pulls black girly stockings over the bottles to keep me from seeing the labels. After I have tasted all of them, I enter the notes in an Excel spreadsheet. Only then do we undress the bottles,” she explains.
She prefers to taste similar wines, to be able to compare “apples with apples”. Or, in Anne Krebiehl’s case: citrus fruits with citrus fruits.