Austria's winegrowers are enjoying international success. In addition, they present their wines more and more often abroad, top restaurants all over the world have accepted the "Austrian wine miracle" and put Austrian wines on the menu.
The winegrowers are following suit.
Instead of aprons and boots, they wear designer suits and shiny shoes. Instead of button accordions and rustic clichés, they have perfect marketing material, websites and mobile phones. The bottles and labels have long been in international design. And almost all of them have now reached dimensions that allow them to export in reasonable quantities by buying, leasing or purchasing. Now it's the turn of the cellars. Either they became too small, or production in the old vaults was too laborious or not clean enough.
|Neumeister's hanging gardens|
So if new buildings have to be constructed, then they have to be built for the future. And then also with proper tasting rooms. Because that, too, is evidence of professionalism. It may have been romantic in the old musty vaults by candlelight, but you could hardly taste properly there. And in the kitchen there was an excellent smell of granny's roast pork, but that didn't promote the fine aroma of a still sealed vintage wine either.
Envy is a part of the construction.
So Austria's winegrowers looked around the world, adapted or developed their own concepts, commissioned architects and drew up financing plans with completely baffled bankers. When the first winegrowers began to put their plans into practice, they experienced their miracles. Suddenly rumours did the rounds, envy talked them all right into bankruptcy. Don't worry, just rumours. Of course, almost all of them overstretched their budgets, because during such large-scale construction projects, one still thinks of additions that need to be planned.
When we had the idea to write this story, we thought of two or three big winegrowers. But during the research we came up with more than twenty wineries and we could fill a whole booklet. The Burgenlanders and the Styrians are very active. So we picked out a few examples.
|Here tasting is fun|
One of the first was Albert Neumeister in Straden in Styria. He has been in his new cellar, built five storeys into the hillside, since 1996. The idea applies to many others as well, with the delivery of the grapes at the top so that as little pumping as possible is required. From the delivery, the grapes are always gravity-fed into the mash tanks, from there into the press and from there into the tanks. This means the gentlest possible processing. The finished wine is collected from the warehouse three storeys below.
The interior design is great; even in the office you enjoy working in these rooms, and in the tasting room it is so pleasant that you would like to taste all the bottles that are piled up on the side wall, but unfortunately they are only an ingenious decoration, despite the corking.
The architect was Werner Schüttmeier, who, in addition to the gravity system, also had to take into account the wishes of the Neumeisters, who did not want to interfere with their neighbours. The result was the "hanging gardens of Straden" after a construction sum of approx. 1.2 million euros, which in the meantime have also pleased the neighbours. And if you prefer it "the way it used to be", you can have dinner in the wonderfully renovated Sazianistuben right next door.
|The large construction site in Ratsch|
The same architect was originally chosen by Alois Gross, whose wishes for the way of working were similar to those of the Neumeisters, but who wanted the exterior of the huge cellar building to be based on the tradition of Styrian architecture. Cautiously looking ahead, he had the first construction phase, the "production part", with a gable roof built in 1995. Under the ground, however, one could already see the modern elements. Now stage two has just been completed: a new barrique cellar, storage, sales and tasting rooms, and the new living area. With an exemplary view. Here, too, there is a gable roof, but underneath there are many modern accents on the various levels. A total of more than 2 million will then have been poured into the mountain.
Another accent is a novelty for southern Styria, the stone terraces, where not only an excellent Traminer wine will grow, but where a table and bench at the end of each terrace will invite guests to linger.
|Willi Sattler in the new cellar|
Willi Sattler built a completely new cellar that plays all the "pieces". Fascinating are the many pipes that bring not only wine, but also hot water for cleaning and compressed air for the tools into every corner of the cellar. The new hotel with restaurant above has been finished for a long time, and so many guests are already being pampered that the Sattlerhof is constantly fully booked. Is this due to his brother's cuisine, the wines or the luxuriously furnished rooms? Probably the combination of everything.
|The terrace building in the Zieregg|
Manfred Tement had architect Christian Leiter plan over 3,000 square metres underground in his super location Zieregg. And there is nothing in modern cellar technology that would not have found a place there. Extra narrow and high steel tanks were specially made and are of course all electronically controllable, with their own computer system. They sparkle in the slanting evening light like a giant organ. But below, it is even more spectacular: the huge cellar with the large barrels and the barrique cellar are certainly unique in Austria, you have to search abroad to find something comparable and that won't be easy.
The vinotheque will be located in the middle of the lowest floor. Rarities in an area hewn out of the rock, which has an incredible effect with the right light. It hardly needs to be mentioned that there are five floors above, most of them with terraces, where the offices and tasting rooms are located, where you can taste in peace, depending on which elite group you are assigned to. And the fact that the incredible view over Zieregg to the Slovenian wine country is already reflected in the huge panes of glass shows how great this view can be enjoyed with a wonderful glass of Morillon or Sauvignon from this site. From the top floor, you can see all the way to Straden on the Styrian side.
It should be clear that more people will certainly make a pilgrimage to Tement than to the monastery next door. It is also clear that the 3 million budget is no longer enough.
|Gernot Heinrich on the building site|
The building by Gernot Heinrich in Gols is the most comparable. Four levels of fair-faced concrete provide almost 3000 square metres of space for modern cellar technology and about 1000 barrels for his enormous red wines. Attentive readers already know the name of the architect, Werner Schüttmeier.
Gernot Heinrich was surprised by the early 2000 harvest. It was hard to imagine how to work on this half-finished construction site. But extreme work effort with a lively boss at the forklift and state-of-the-art technology alongside building materials even yielded a super vintage.
The fact that the whole thing looks extremely good despite being designed for functionality and ergonomics is not only due to the good taste and stylistic confidence of the winemaker and architect, but also to a budget of several million euros.
|Fred Loimer's super office|
The situation is different with Fred Loimer in Langenlois. He had access to a huge old cellar of an old trading house, which he had beautifully renovated. I have rarely seen such beautiful vaults anywhere. So architect Andreas Burghardt "only" had to design the office and presentation rooms. This was achieved in such a light, bright and appealing way - you can open half the wall - that people will love to go there for the planned vernissages and events. This has already been rewarded with victory in an architectural competition.
Even if many people in Langenlois find the cube, which is painted black on the outside, "more than a little unusual", it makes sense, as was already evident during the cold season.
|The award-winning Buschenschank|
The task for the architect duo Haselwanter and Fellner at the vintner Josef Lackner from Klein-Engersdorf was completely different. Lackner lives mainly from his Buschenschank. Therefore, in addition to modernising the cellar, the main task was a new building for the guests. The design, open to one side, resulted from the possibility of using the garden in summer, and the three storeys offer plenty of space and cosiness. The airy wooden building has already won architectural prizes.
|Sparkling steel in Singerriedl|
Construction is also underway in the Wachau. Franz Hirtzberger dug a new cellar in his famous local mountain Singerriedl, now there is finally room for the great wines from Spitz. Emmerich Knoll simply has a plot of land that is far too narrow for his premises, so the excavators worked in the middle of the tract directly in front of the cellar door to build a new press house there, and F.X. Pichler had a storey built on top of the tasting rooms to alleviate the lack of space.
|Emmerich Knoll in need of space|
Large building sites are currently also to be found at the Heinrichs, Albert Gesellmann and the Reumanns in Deutschkreuz, all of whom, together with architect Anton Mayerhofer, are giving the village a new face. Almost finished is Stefan Wellanschitz in Neckenmarkt, who has the architect right in the family, and Franz Weninger has already received an award for exemplary corporate architecture for his new building. Raimund Dickinger and a group called Propeller Z were responsible for the interior design. It is probably only a matter of time before the locals like it too.
|Hans Schwarz is happy about his new garage|
As I said, there are still a few projects in the country. But the most positive thing is that the wines are apparently better than the architecture, because three architectural prizes are matched by countless prizes for Austrian wines abroad.