Volker Donabaum’s journey to becoming a Houston-based wine importer began with what became a perfect online encounter with his future wife, Sarah. But that only represents the geography part. Donabaum had undoubtedly followed his career since his childhood, drinking here and there sips of wines made by his family in Austria since 1833. His mother, Ernestine, specifically remembers the young Volker, 5 years old at the time, serving what little was left in a bottle he found on the dinner table one evening.
“You can certainly tell that I have wine in my DNA,” he said, noting how his father, Sighardt, had been the first of his generation of farmers in the Wachau region to focus strictly on viticulture. Donabaum’s brother, also named Sighardt, now runs the eponymous winery, although Volker’s company, which started only in 2018, is not the US importer. Why? Because relationships are everything to Volker, and he didn’t want to create problems between his brother and the longtime New York-based importer from Donabaum, which has served the company well.