World Class Organic Wines from Austria

Ilse Maier
Ilse Maier

Austria is now home to some of the best organic winemakers. We’re proud to represent the very gifted Ilse Maier of Weingut Geyerhof and Dorli Muhr of Muhr-van der Niepoort.

Thanks to the leadership of Ilse Maier, Weingut Geyerhof in Oberfucha, Kremstal, has been organic since 1988. Ilse Maier’s family has lived in the wine village of Oberfucha since the 16th century and for Ilse, it became vital to preserve the biodiversity surrounding the village, not only for the vineyards but also for the wildlife and farm animals.

In the vineyards, Ilse and her son Josef are working hard to keep the vines healthy and the soil loose and nicely moist underneath. They farm without using any pesticides, insecticides or weed control material. Clover is planted in every other row to naturally increase nitrogen in the soil, compost is used to nourish the plants, and the local wildlife is welcome.

beehives
Maria Maier’s beehives

To save the grasslands around the village from overgrowth, the family is even raising cattle, which provide meat and milk and also manure for the fields. Maria Maier, Ilse’s daughter in-law, comes from a beekeeping family. She has started beekeeping in the vineyards. The bees are healthy and thriving thanks to the absence of pesticides in the surrounding fields.

Josef Maier
Josef Maier playing with his son Matthis

Geyerhof produces distinctive Grüner Veltliner wines from different vineyards, all reflecting a diversity of terroirs. StockWerk, from granulite and tertiary gravel is low in alcohol (11.6%), lively, light and fruity. Rosensteig, from a vineyard on a slope near the Danube with alluvial soil and gravels, is mineral, spicy, with very good acidity. Steinleithn, from a stony and mostly infertile vineyard, is aromatic, elegant and concentrated.

Geyerhof also makes a delicate, low alcohol, red Zweigelt from a cool site and a vibrant Riesling from a rocky vineyard on the northwestern edge of the estate.

Dorli Muhr
Dorli Muhr

In Carnuntum — a old wine-growing region east of Vienna named after a major Roman city on the Danube — the Muhr-van der Niepoort estate is transitioning to become certified organic. Austrian Dorli Muhr, together with Portuguese Dirk Niepoort, resuscitated her family vineyards and she is now working on re-establishing the historic limestone-rich Spitzerberg as a prominent wine district. 

The protected nature preserve of the Spitzerberg is an extension of the Little Carpathians mountain range with poor, limestone soils. Although grapes have been growing on its hillsides for centuries thanks to its well-drained soils and its dry climate, hot summers, cold winters, and the influence of the nearby Danube River, its vineyards has been sadly neglected for most of the recent decades.

Blaufrankisch vines
Blaufränkisch vines

This terroir is particularly well suited for growing the late-ripening Blaufränkisch and Dorli Muhr has shown that it can produce fresh and elegant red wines, with mouth-watering acidity and fine tannins.

At Muhr-van der Niepoort, farming is organic. All work is done by hand and some grapes are even stomped by foot. The grapes are not treated with any sulphur and no cultured yeast is used. The wines mature in neutral oak. 

Dorli Muhr stomping grapes
Dorli Muhr stomping grapes

The Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg, made from selected old Blaufränkisch plots, is an elegant, terroir-driven wine with fine tannins and a long after-taste.

95 Points for the Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2013 in Wine Enthusiast Magazine: “Very pure and lifted notes of red cherry are held tightly within a taut frame: the nose gives almost nothing away. The palate provides another glimpse of that hauntingly delicious, almost sublimated cherry note. There is something aromatic and pure, unforced and honest about this disarming wine. The structure is subtle but firm, the elegance borders on the Pinot-esque, thus the wine is slender but profound.”

The Samt & Seide (Velvet and Silk) , from vines between 10–30 years old, has a rich smooth texture, fresh fruit aromas, and a lively acidity.

93 Points for the Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide 2015 in Wine Enthusiast Magazine: “Pure notes of crushed blueberry have a wonderfully tart edge, almost like wild little huckleberries. The same, pure and intense fruit spreads across the textured body where fine and ever so slightly rustic tannins crunch pleasurably. This wine shows the juicy, almost voluptuous ripeness of 2015 without ever losing freshness or tone. This should come with some sort of pleasure warning. Simply delicious. Drink 2018–2025.”