It’s time to harvest the last grapes. First, we watch the Eigl family, vintners from the village of Joching, as they go about the job, before enjoying a refreshment at the family Heuriger.
Kathi Eigl revs up her ‘racer’. A golf cart is by far the fastest way to climb the Kollmitz hill. Nowadays, almost every vintner in the area has such a vehicle, providing rapid transport between vineyards. Most, after all, are in the same situation as the Eigls, with their plots spread far apart.
Many of the Eigl family’s vineyards are situated on Joching’s Kollmitz hill – which Wachau insiders are sure never to confuse with the Kollmütz hill near the village of Wösendorf. On all these slopes, manual labour is the rule. Now, at the end of October, it’s time to gather in the last grapes for the 2019 vintage. Kathi Eigl isn’t bothered by the many little jobs to be done hand over the year. Rather, as she notes:
Her father, mother and brother – and Kathi Eigl herself – all work in the business her grandfather built up in the 1960s.
And who deals out the tasks? Kathi responds with a hearty laugh: “Well now, it rather really depends. We often spend a lot of time discussing just that. But usually the one to have the last word is papa – or I.”
Self-assertiveness. A trait that has helped Kathi Eigl become recognised among vintners, a male domain. “Sometimes it’s more than odd how men don’t expect you to be able to do everything. Like driving a tractor,” says the 28-year-old, with a naughty grin. The number of female vintners in the Wachau is rising, though.
After working several years at faraway dining establishments, between Lech on Arlberg and Überlingen near Lake Constance, Kathi Eigl decided to return to her roots, with the family winery. “It’s just so beautiful here where we live, in the Wachau. I don’t need to travel far at all,” she claims. To charge her batteries, she dons her running shoes for a jaunt through the vineyards. After that it’s back to work. That might be in the cellar, where the Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings are maturing. The Eigls also have Burgundies in their selection, their favourite varieties in fact. Grauburgunder (Pinot gris), Weißburgunder (Pinot blanc) and Chardonnay – the Eigls vinify all of them as ‘Smaragd’.
Chances are, when not at the winery Kathi Eigl is spending her time in one of two ways: number one, she plays the clarinet with Wösendorf’s traditional brass band. This one of Kathi’s favourite free-time pursuits. She especially enjoys playing marches, like the ‘Deutschmeister’. But more modern pieces too. “Would Udo Jürgens pass as modern?” she asks, again with a grin.
Number two, Kathi might well be at the family’s Heuriger at Wösendorf. There she and her mother Romana cater to guests. The tavern, housed in old stone walls, offers wonderfully sumptuous delights. Particularly popular in this season are the venison dishes, garnished with chutney, scorzonera und walnuts. Time to enjoy a hearty refreshment, or Mahlzeit – mealtime, as we say here!