It’s finally arrived: the Vinea Wachau Vineyard Quartet. As we play the game with vintners from the southern bank, we talk about what value and promise their vineyards hold.
Setting: Five youthful vintners meet on one of those November days, when the fog hangs low over the Wachau. Time to brighten the mood with some good conversation. Herbert Polz, Nikolaus Rehrl, Matthias Pöchlinger, Martin Bergkirchner and Walter Lahrnsteig sit down at a table at Philipp Essl’s country inn in the village of Rührsdorf. Not without a pinch of pride, we deal each in the round a hand from the new Vinea Wachau Vineyard Quartet deck. You can also play this brand-new Vinea card game by the rules of top trump. And, on the side, you find out all sorts of things about the Wachau’s 108 main vineyards or Rieden, such as area, slope – and the 1,000,000 hours of work it takes each year to manage the vineyards.
Did you know that Atzberg has the steepest slope of any Wachau vineyard? And Vogelberg, measuring only 0.4 hectares, is the smallest of any? The young vintners are enjoying this version of quartet. Where can you buy it? Just now at the Vinea Wachau office in Spitz and at the Domäne Wachau winery at Dürnstein. Soon every vintner who wishes will have it on hand. So let’s get started, shuffle the deck and uncork the bottle!
Matthias Pöchlinger: Mine is Ried Bachgarteln. It’s located just next to the Danube and benefits from the generous supply water. Which will become an important factor in future. This vineyard usually renders exciting wines high in acidity.
Nikolaus Rehrl: I have two different favourites, because they demonstrate so well the contrast Grüner Veltliner has to offer. With its paragneiss soil, Kirnberg produces light, sparkling wines with an elegant mineral note. Steiger, meanwhile, has layers of humus and loess, giving hearty, full-bodied wines. Some of our guests, when they arrive, just order a “Steiger”. Whether it’s a Riesling or Grüner Veltliner is not that important to them. That tells you how important vineyard and location are nowadays.
Herbert Polz: I think vineyard locations will become even more important in time. Especially here in the Wachau, where the labels belonging to Vinea have gained wide recognition. Steinfeder, Federspiel, Smaragd – the classification is important, people are aware of it. But even more, people are now talking about individual vineyards.
Many of the Wachau’s valleys are hills. Walter Lahrnsteig, remarking how odd some vineyard names are. One of his vineyards, a slope above Oberarnsdorf yielding Rieslings, is named Traunthal or Traun valley.
Walter Lahrnsteig: Yes, it’s now the other way around. The label now takes second place to the vineyard, which is becoming more important.
Martin Bergkirchner: At the same time we see a trend where more and more people are coming here to have a special experience you can’t just get anywhere. They want background information about the vineyards and have a guided tour with the vintner. People want to hear stories about grapes and wine.
Matthias Pöchlinger: We need to keep this personal flair. That’s so important. That’s why people keep coming to us on the southern bank, because it’s family-like. This is a real concern for me in the future: as nice as it is to have more and more tourists, how are we going to manage rising numbers and stay committed to gentle tourism?
Herbert Polz: You’re right. Many, like us, have a Heuriger wine tavern. Our guests simply appreciate when we sit down at their tables and visit from time to time.
Nikolaus Rehrl: The future belongs to the cooler slopes along the southern bank, just the ones people didn’t take seriously for so long. Climate change will be to our advantage here.
Matthias Pöchlinger: A warmer climate also means changes in the way we work. Sometimes it would be better if we harvested only between five and eight in the morning. It would be best to say: Enough for today, let’s let the sun take over. But you can’t always do things that way.
Philipp Essl: I think there’s a great future in store for the southern bank. Especially because there are young, dynamic winegrowers here willing to move forward. Just look around here. And I also believe that individual locations will be a bigger factor in future. Nowadays, our customers know a lot more. Many now ask about a special vineyard. And often we offer restaurant guests to taste wines from different vintners with vineyards in the same location. One location, three vintners – people like the idea. That lets guests appreciate what each vintner makes of the location. It’s especially this variety that our guests love.
Walter Lahrnsteig: No matter from what vineyard, we see the most demand for fresh, fruity wines. I think there will continue to be a high demand for fresh-tasting wines. Climate change is means a challenge especially for us Wachau vintners to produce exactly those kinds.
Thanks for your comments.
Vineyard Quartet is available at the Vinea Wachau office or can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org for just € 15 incl. sales tax. Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus, Schlossgasse 3, A-3620 Spitz / Donau
You can also purchase and take home Vineyard Quartet at Domäne Wachau during regular store hours:
April to October: Mondays to Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm
November to March: Mondays to Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm (closed holidays)