Franz Prager passed away on October 9, just a few days before his 94th birthday.
After establishing a winery among the Wachau’s most prominent, as the first chairman of Vinea Wachau he played a pioneering role in the region: Franz Prager’s passing closes a chapter in Wachau wine history.
After graduating from the College of Viticulture at Klosterneuburg, Franz Prager was active as an oenologist at the Dürnstein Vinters’ Association (now Domäne Wachau) under then-director Marek. Meeting Franziska, later to become his wife, was for Franz Prager – and for the Wachau region – something of an appointment with destiny. Together with her, within a very short space of time he built up one of the Wachau’s leading wineries. As early as the 1950s, he began bottling vintages and was among the first to convert to new methods of cultivation, using machinery for higher yields with less labour.
Not only on his own estate was Franz Prager a visionary. He also played this role in a team with Josef Jamek, Willi Schwengler and Franz Hirtzberger, with whom for years he pioneered the region’s development for the benefit of all. Those were also the four who, together with others, founded Vinea Wachau in 1983 – with Franz Prager serving as its first chairman.
Other milestones in the association’s history included: banning the purchase of grapes or wines from outside the Wachau, compulsory harvesting by hand, and the creation of three quality brands – Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. Franz Hirtzberger Senior once made a telling, since then oft-cited remark: “We were always friends and never competitors.”
Beyond all outstanding accomplishments, his love for his family and his amiable manner will live on in our memories.
Franz Prager is the last of the four titans to bid farewell to their arena, the Wachau and its world of wines. As Wachau vintners, we are immensely indebted to him and will strive to uphold his legacy.