Born in Subotica (Serbia) from an Hungarian family, Ernő Sagmeister began producing wine full time in 2008, while previously he had only made wine for himself and his friends. After following in love with the district of the National Park Fruška Gora in Srem he planted his first vineyards there.
The area has been a cross roads for centuries with the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its roaring years and it’s not rare to find Serbian and Hungarian families mixing their history and surnames. Sagmeister itself is a German and Austrian surname. The winery was founded by one of the most significant choreographers, the renown József Nagy (or Josef Nadj, if we consider the Serbian or French spelling).
After Nagy left, Ernő worked together with Krisztián Dukay, but recently the two friends parted ways and he is currently managing everything by himself. His Fruška Gora’s wines convey the ancient past of the wine region, acting like a true and authentic ambassador of the area.

In the beginning the uncertified organic farmed vineyards consisted of 7 hectares planted on hilly terrain at about 300 meters above sea level. Nowadays Ernő has only a bit over 2 hectares planted under vine. The yearly production is 5-6000 bottles only on average. He will plant in next two years 3 more hectares (mainly with  Kadarka). The vineyards are protected without systemic fungicides, insecticides and herbicides. Solely sulphur and copper are used for this purpose. Erno makes his own specific preparations and agents from aromatic oils, rarely using whole milk, kaolin, alginate, humic acids. A little bit of mature organic manure is good for the soil. All the vineyard’s management is done by hand and only the best grapes are selected during harvest. Yields are low in order to maintain high quality standards and condition. He and his former partner Nadj were the ones who brought Furmint and Hárslevelű back to the mountain, advocated for the Kadarka variety in order to be officially part of the Register of Recognised Varieties in the Republic of Serbia. Besides that, the estate cultivated (till 2019) Syrmia Green and Pinot Noir which became indigenous here as well. The varieties were chosen on the bases of high quality and respect for tradition. Erno also makes a Cabernet Franc wine whose fruit is sourced from the vineyards of a neighboring winegrower. The cellar is 150 km away north from the vineyard in Kanjiža, a small city in the northern Voivodina district, just a few km far from the Hungarian border.

Ernő strongly believes in ancient methods of cultivation, in maintaining the soils’ fertility through natural methods such as the green manure.
The estate promotes indigenous herbs and plants (which often annually vary) to grow on their own, with the clear intent to help nature along rather than attempting to control it. Many herbs including some medicinal ones (thyme, milfoil, mint and wild strawberries to name a few) thrive between the rows helping to subsides the erosive action of the rains. Green manures include legumes (such as vetch and clover) and special grasses (rye). Usually the cover crop is cut in April or first week of May just before grapevine flowering and enhances insects and small animals activity and biodiversity.
No chemicals at all in the vineyard with just sulfur, copper and plant based biodynamic preparations sprayer according to the lunar calendar. All the main vineyards’ activities are done by hand.
Overall the estate is part of an untamed area where nature rules and wild animals are often seen. This is the ideal place to elaborate authentic artisanal wines and to think “outside the box” by experimenting, year in year out, some new vinification techniques.
In the cellar, Sagmeister wines have no added elements (no liquid tannins, proteins, sugar, colorants, etc). Basically no cellar manipulation!

The Fruška Gora hill runs approximately 80 kilometers east to west and its highest point is 539 meters. It’s flanked to the north by the Danube River. Most of the hill lies within Serbia’s borders, but a tiny portion of the western end is in Croatia. The low-lying Fruška Gora stands out like a sore thumb in the pancake-flat province of Vojvodina. It is technically located in the Sremski Wine Region, but many locals simply refer to the region as Fruška Gora.
It’s an ancient fault rock mountain and it was once an island in the Pannonian sea. Geologically speaking is very diverse and it consists of shale, marl, limestone, dolomite, sand and cobblestone, Pannonian clay. In several places it is intersected with magmatic rocks, old serpentinine and younger riolite, dacite, trachyte, andesite and their tuffs. The youngest layer is loess. Sporadically high levels of iron provide for a complex acidic structure of wine.
The national park is covered with mixed forests (92,3%): silver linden, sessile oak, Austrian oak, beech, common hornbeam. It is the biggest truffle site in Serbia. Interesting trivia concerning the fauna – there are many birds of prey, so there are very few starlings. A bunch of Orthodox monasteries are nestled in the valleys as well.
The climate of the wine region is moderately continental, but on the southern side of the mountain the temperatures never drop below -16 °C. Annual average temperature is 11.2 °C, while the annual precipitation level ranges between 580 and 730mm. Annual sunshine duration is 2100 hours. Fruška Gora bears the title of the first national park in Serbia since 1960.
Excellent soil is the fundamental basis necessary to reach a balanced ecosystem. Without a lively land, rich in organic humus, plants would hardly find an ideal habitat for growth. Erno firmly believes that a naturally healthy and strong vineyard needs few external interventions, in order to produce full-flavored and healthy grapes.
The vineyards are located in three different areas: Devas, Kew and Kanias (the last one till 2019). These three subzones present some peculiar differences in the terroir characteristics.

Planted in 2010, the vineyard is pretty small (only 1,2 hectares) and sits on 250 m above sea level with a vine density of 6000 plants per hectare. The soil is heavy vertisol and it contains red and black clay, with hydrated lime veins, and some limonite limestone. This is mainly a east facing vineyard.
The grape varieties are 40% Furmint, 30% Kadarka, 30% Hárslevelű, all cultivated with a low cordon training system. The average yield is only 0,7-1 kg/vine.
Sorb trees can be found among the grapes which has been planted in the XVIII century under the reign and “protection” of Empress Maria Theresa. This vineyard give way to cheerful and elegant wines a bit fresher than the wines coming from the Kanias vineyard.

Planted in 2010, this is Erno’s smallest vineyard (only 0,9 hectares), sitting at 290-315 m above sea level with a vine density of 6500 plant per hectare.
The geological base (serpentinite rock) is enriched by limonite limestone and dolomite with a high magnesium content. The soil is forest type with red clay, and the bit of loess. It’s the stoniest vineyard in Serbia and it’s pretty unique with a topsoil of only 40-60 cm covering a cracked rock. This West facing steep bush trained vineyard (gobelet) has an incline of 15-25%. When the summers are very dry, there is no .. fruit. It took five years from the planting to have the first harvest properly done.
The grape varieties cultivated here are 90% Furmint, 10% Kadarka with a tiny average yield of 0,2-0,5 kg/vine.
Serpentinite is an ultrabasic metamorphic magmatic rock. Mineral olivine turns into serpentinite in hot water solutions. Its colour is primarily blue-green, but it can be yellow, red, and it can have white spots. As the name indicates, it is believed to protect from snake bites. It is also responsible for the magnetic anomalies of the mountain.
The wines coming from this vineyard are powerful, full of energy displaying extreme minerality.

Erno had the chance to start working with this vineyard planted in 2009 and 2011 placed at 270-290 m above the sea level. It is directly neighbouring the National park, on the tributary of the Neradin creek, above the dried-out riverbed of Kanjež. The soil is very heavy vertisol and it contains mainly red and black clay and some loess. Geologically, it is a combination of eroded limonite limestone, blue conglomerate, slate. It has a high iron content. The south-western facing vineyard is covered by a forest providing the adequate cold climate. Here the grapes awake and ripen the latest. The grape varieties planted are 40% Furmint, 25% Kadarka, 30% Pinot Noir, 5% Syrmia Green, cultivated with both low cordon and gobelet (bush vine) system. The average yield is 0,5-1 kg/vine with a vine density of 5500-6000 plants per hectare. The tolling of the bell from the Grgeteg monastery can be heard in the vineyard. The wines produced form the fruit sourced here present a Venus-like character – luxurious, round, full, marked by rich flavours.

Fruška Gora is in the Srem region. Nine Roman emperors, including Probus, who was a pioneer in establishing vineyards, were born in Sremska Mitrovica (Syrmium). Guess what … Serbian people are so fond in keeping Probus’ memories alive that they named after him a local grape variety which is a cross between Kadarka and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The kings of the Árpád dynasty, who ruled from 855 to 1301, have often populated the vineyards with growers originally from the French Wallonia and this must have influenced the Slavic name of the mountain – Fruška Gora, which is … “Frankish mountain”.
As Lajos Ambrus noted: „Ever since the time of Matthias Bel (1694 – 1749), it is common knowledge that winemaking spread to the entire Pannonian basin from here”.
Important and affluent people lived in the wine valley, but also the inhabitants of Szeged and Budapest had vineyards owned here. This is where the first ranked wine of the Hungarian Empire was produced until the beginning of the XVI century. Customs rates documents prove that it was at least twice as expensive as the second wine ranked from Somogy.
Amidst the danger of Ottoman occupation, the winemakers from Szerém move to Tokaj, in the Mecsek-Balaton-Somló area. Welschriesling, Furmint (Szigeti), Hárslevelű, Juhfark (literally sheep’s tail in Hungarian) are all famous varieties.
The red Kadarka became widespread in the Karpathian basin, in Szekszárd, Buda, Eger, primarily with the help of Serbians.
The first amphelographic description of varieties is attributed to Prokopije Bolić, archimandrite of the orthodox monastery Rakovac. His book Sovršen Vinodelac (The Perfect Winemaker) was published in Buda in 1816.
Within the Fruška Gora National Park, the sacred centre of the mountain is Irig. This is where most of the orthodox monasteries can be found, and it is presumed that they were originally established by the Pauline Fathers.
Fertile Pannonian land, centuries of experience in making wine and secret recipes have turned people of the Srem region into the most skillful Serbian winegrowers and winemakers, and the town of Sremski Karlovci into a sort of “wine capital” (although Irig has more land under vines than Sremski Karlovci).
Today tourists can sample and enjoy different wines’ styles  offered by over 60 family managed estates by touring the Fruška Gora wine route.

Under some peculiar circumstances in 2021, Steep Hill has started a partnership with Fearless Finds managed by Marko Babsek and Aleks Krsmanovic. These are the wines imported:

Sagmeister Furmint 2017: This is the entry level Furmint coming from different vineyards. Hand harvested grapes undergo spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aged for 12 months in used 500 Liters, 225 Liters oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Unfined and unfiltered.
Sagmeister Furmint Devas 2017:  East facing vineyard sitting at 240 m above the sea level. Planted in 2010, this vineyard gives way to cheerful and elegant wines, a bit fresher than the wines coming from the Kanias vineyard. Hand harvested grapes undergo whole bunch pressing and spontaneously ferment in used barrels where the ageing process continues for 18 months. Unfined and unfiltered.
Sagmeister Pinot Noir Kanias 2017: This single vineyard is covered by a forest providing the adequate cold climate. Here the grapes awake and ripen the latest. Hand harvested grapes, destemmed, spontaneous fermentation, delicate pressing of fermented grapes.  Maceration lasts 6-7 days, fermentation takes place in 500 Liters open vats. Aged for 36 months in 500 Liters and 225 Liters used (predominantly) and new oak barrels.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Sagmeister Cabernet Franc Breton 2017: This variety has gained a relevant tradition in Hungary and northern Serbia. In addition to being found in Villany and Szekszard, Cab Franc is also present in Eger, Southern of the Balaton lake and Sopron, to a lesser extent. Sagmeister rendition is a rich, luscious wine at 14,5% AbV. Spontaneous fermentation takes place in 500 L open vats. Aged 36 months in 500 L and 225 L used oak barrels.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

In a nutshell



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