Adventures in Austrian Wine-land
Once upon a time, on a late-March morning, I awoke with heavy lids in an enchanting farmhouse in the midst of sunny Austrian forests and fields of grain. I sheepishly peered into my closet of yodeling dresses, threw on a pair of running shoes, and hit the winding trails. I speeded past the ostrich farm, beyond the eccentric artwork of nude celebrity figures guzzling wine bottles, and through the curving vineyard rows to a peak at the top of the horizon, where I could gaze upon the vast stretches of fertile land. I pinched myself as I returned, lost through the unending rows of vines and gasping open-mouthed at nature’s maddening bounty. No, I wasn’t stuck in a vibrant fairy tale dream. This was real life from the angle of a perfectly picturesque European perspective.
Before my departure from Austria, I was invited by my roommate to visit her hometown of Poysdorf – a tiny town with big spirit near the Czech-Austrian border. I was generously shown her family’s tenth-generation winery, Weingut Rieder Veltinerhof, as well as all the other charms of the region.
The Rieder family has been at it for 260 years, passing down the tradition of winemaking from one generation to the next. Wine is the substance that connects their family tree. Children are trained in the tricks of the trade from a young age. This intricate vine to wine glass education involves everything from growing in the lush fields; to harvesting in the crisp Autumn Austrian air; to fermenting in elaborate contraptions of stainless steel; to aging in oak barrels; to bottling in the richly humid cellar; to tasting for acidity, sweetness, notes of fruit, and flaws; to serving with a smile to guests at the tavern.
In addition to tying together generations, wine connects the Rieders to their land. Wolfgang Rieder, the current owner, explained that he seeks to “humbly emulate” the “simple beauty of nature” on the verdantly vast family property.
Centuries of getting their hands deep and dirty in the soil of the rolling hills has enabled the Rieders to optimize their craft. Their wines are known for fruity complexity and a peppery bite that is characteristic of local grapes. Yet the tastes of their specialties shift as the world around them grows. For instance, Wolfgang stated that climate change is causing a growing success of robust reds that would have once been impossible to flourish in their latitude.
The Rieders’ trend toward reds is also influenced by spectacular social elements of the world around them. Wolfgang declared that during his formative years of young adulthood, he took a big leap to branch out from his small town. He spent time in Spain, learning their artful appreciation of red beauties. In this exploration, he tasted his way through altogether foreign yet fascinating traditions of winegrowing. He had the opportunity to share his novice knowledge as he learned to cultivate the best elements of his exposure for his own family’s trade.
Wine connected the owner to aficionados around the world through his education, and it continues to link his family to the global community of curious drinkers as they pass through Poysdorf. Open-minded visitors are welcomed with open arms to embrace the family’s legacy by savoring their wine.
The diligent and meticulous work of generations past all pays off in a single sip as customers become hooked to the stories that fill each bottle. To uncork a glass vessel from the Rieder’s centuries-old drinkable library is to truly share a taste of the many tales of adventure in this wonderful Austrian wine-land.