Tegernseerhof Winery prides itself as one of the Wachau’s oldest estates. The secret of its success? Striking a balance at the very middle. That’s the course chosen by Mittelbach – a name literally meaning “Mid-Stream”.
Usually, he would be spending less time at his estate. Martin Mittelbach normally travels the globe, marketing the wines of Tegernseehof. But, because of corona, he has seen only Unterloiben this spring, and nothing of Bangkok or New York. And in some ways that seems to hardly inconvenience him. Martin finally has time to devote himself to his vineyards even more deeply. “This has given us the opportunity for even more exacting and selective work with our vines,” he says.
The Tegernseehof Winery is situated at the middle – of Unterloiben. One of the oldest estates on the north bank of the Wachau, Tegernseehof looks back on a millennium of history linking it to the Benedictine Abbey at Tegernsee in Bavaria. Here we are at the very heart of the Wachau’s wine culture. Here you can taste your way through all the diversity the region has to offer, at an estate with no fewer than 118 distinct vineyard parcels. Many of them are situated on the Wachau’s most prestigious slopes: Loibenberg, Kellerberg, Steinriegel, Zwerithaler and Höhereck, to name a few. The winery is committed to maturing wines representative of individual sites. Martin's heart beats for Smaragd: “Because these wines have that special something. Steep, terraced vineyards mean hours of heart-pounding work, some hours spent wondering how you might get it done more easily.”
Martin Mittelbach sees himself as upholding the estate’s long-standing tradition, while trusting his imagination for his own personal mark. “As a vintner, you do things the way it has come down to you from your ancestors. But you also need to respond to new currents and find your own course,” Martin Mittelbach observes. A current consideration is how to put organic principles into practice at his estate. Of the 27 hectares, 8 are cultivated to organic standards (though not certified).
In doing his own “organic feasibility study”, Martin is especially interested in finding out how the vines respond to seasons with high disease pressure. Martin Mittelbach is unconvinced of a one-fits-all solution to winegrowing. Rather, true to his motto, he finds “the middle way is best”.
A video to greet customers in Japan – a snapshot for Instagram. When competing at international level, an estate markets not only its wines but the Wachau at large, or even a distinct sense of what life is all about. Martin Mittelbach especially enjoys entertaining customers at Alter Klosterkeller, the former monastery cellar at Dürnstein that is now estate property. The wine tavern managed by Jörg Grasl is like an art display exhibiting the works of Tegernseehof: “Here the threshold is low for getting to know our wines. They are framed by a hearty snack, a view of the Danube, and even fantastic barbecue spare ribs at weekends,” Martin Mittelbach reports.
Faced with choosing a favourite dish, he goes for the sausage salad. “A delicious mix of sausage, cheese, onions and juicy peppers,” as the vinter explains in the video for international guests. And the fitting wine? “That depends on so many things. Whether it’s 5 or 30 degrees outside, or how you’re feeling that day. My choice today is Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Ried Superin. It’s from the very vineyard we’re sitting in.” Well cheers, then. And stay healthy!