World Class Organic Wines from Austria

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. 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 … Continue reading World Class Organic Wines from Austria

#WineWednesday Spotlight #109: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

After spending 3 years working for a wine magazine in New York City, wine and food writer Nicole Ruiz Hudson has recently returned to California. Located in the Bay Area, she now enjoys going on camping trips, from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains to Humboldt County up in the northern part of the state. On camping trips, she likes to eat well and pair her meals with something good in her glass. Not all wines are good camping wines though so in her blogpost 2 oz Pours: Campsite Dining, she shares with us some of her personal guidelines for perfect camping wines: they have to be easy-drinking, under $20, versatile, easy to open with a screwcap, and tasty while chilled. Sounds good to me! With Andouille sausages grilled on the fire and cannellini beans sautéed with onions, garlic and Parmesan, she enjoyed drinking a Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk Kremstal 2015: This is such a tasty wine. We have this at home quite a bit and we took this on both of our summer camping trips. (One of my co-workers mentioned this also one of her camping go-to’s.) StockWerk literally means “work on the vines.” The grapes for this wine grow on … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #109: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

Meet our Women Vintners

Do you know that as many as 13 of the wineries in our current portfolio are run or co-run by women? Witnessing an increasing number of talented women involved in the wine industry on International Women’s Day is exciting. They may have taken different paths — some took over their family estate from their parents, others founded their wineries from scratch — but they are all passionate about their work. Whether they have a degree in oenology or learned the trade while working with their family, these women are making important contributions to viticulture and winemaking. In Austria, grower and winemaker Ilse Maier pioneered organic farming in Kremstal when she took over Geyerhof, the family estate, in 1986. Dorli Muhr resuscitated her family vineyards in Carnuntum and now produces some of Austria’s finest Blaufränkisch. In Tokaj, Hungary, winemakers Judit Bodó and Stéphanie Berecz founded respectively Bott and Kikelet wineries with their husbands and are now making some of the best wines of the region. In 2014, Stéphanie was awarded by her fellow winemakers the prestigious title of “winemaker of the winemakers”. Sarolta Bárdos who owns and runs Tokaj Nobilis was the winner of the prestigious award of 2012 Winemaker of … Continue reading Meet our Women Vintners

#WineWednesday Spotlight #59: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

Although Kremstal — an appellation in the Danube Valley situated around the old Austrian town of Krems — is best-known for its white wines, it enjoys a slightly warmer climate than in the nearby Wachau where the valley is narrower. Thanks to these conditions, the Maier family from Geyerhof grows organic Zweigelt (pronounced TSVYE-gelt) in deep sandy soil on east-facing slopes for their StockWerk project. The name StockWerk, which means in German work (Werk) on the vine (Stock), reflects the philosophy of the Maier family, a pioneer of organic viticulture in Kremstal. Farming an organic vineyard implies a lot of additional hard work to keep the vine healthy and preserve biological diversity in the vineyard. To save the grasslands around their village of Oberfucha from overgrowth, the family started raising cattle again last year. They now have manure for the fields and also meat and milk. Moreover, Maria Maier, daughter of a Beekeeper, started beekeeping two years ago. Thanks to the absence of pesticides, she has now healthy and thriving bee colonies. The cow and bees that you can see below the vine on the wine’s label illustrate that biological diversity. With its light peppery nose, aromas of sour cherry … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #59: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

#WineWednesday #53: Spotlight on Geyerhof’s Grüner Veltliners

Following the trace of Sisi, the beloved Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, we crossed the Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) in Budapest and drove up the Danube River to Vienna. Contrary to Budapest, the inner city of Vienna is not exactly on the Danube but borders the Danube Canal, a smaller arm of the river. But one of the most scenic stretches of the river can be experienced just an hour from Vienna, in the Wachau. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site that lies in the Danube Valley between the towns of Melk and Krems. Driving along the river, you can admire baroque towns and monasteries, quaint villages, ruins of medieval castles and steep terraced vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Facing Krems on the other side of the river is the small wine village of Oberfucha, home to the Maier family, who has been producing wines for 15 generations. We were welcomed by Ilse, her son Josef and his wife Maria. Baby Matthis, Maria and Josef’s new son, was still sleeping. First, Josef took us for a tour of the Kirchensteig (path to the church) vineyard just behind the house. While walking in the vineyard, Josef explained … Continue reading #WineWednesday #53: Spotlight on Geyerhof’s Grüner Veltliners

The Stockwerk project

Our new Austrian container is reaching U.S. shores, packed with new wines from the exceptional 2015 vintage, including the 2015 Geyerhof Stockwerk Grüner Veltliner and 2015 Geyerhof Stockwerk Zweigelt. Stockwerk is the child project of Geyerhof‘s next generation of winemakers, Ilse Maier’s son Josef and his wife Maria. We’ll let Josef describes it in his own words: StockWerk is a real project of the next generation at Geyerhof (we are the 15th generation of the family). Maria had the idea of the name and the label. Generally the label should show how organic viticulture works. In German, StockWerk means the work (Werk) on the vine (Stock). Of course the vine is in the middle, but in an organic farm, there is also a strong focus on the surrounding. For us, it was very important that the vine was not drawn bigger than the cover plants around it, because for the ecosystem, they have the same importance. The secret little helpers stand for all the manual work in our vineyards. But the label should also show the projects of Maria and me: In the right corner you can see bees. Maria’s father has been a beekeeper for 30 years and so … Continue reading The Stockwerk project

The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott

On March 22nd we held a tasting of two dynamic Austrian wine estates, Geyerhof and Muhr-van der Niepoort, at Jadis Wine Bar in New York. Acclaimed wine critic and writer Stuart Pigott attended and has graciously allowed us to share his review of the event here. Enjoy! New York Wine Diary: Day 5 – The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott Last night at Jadis wine bar on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side I had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with the wonderful fragrance that Austrian wine is capable of. I’m not talking about the in-your-face kind of aromas that many so-called Icon Wines from around the globe have – they are often so over-concentrated that they slams into you like rogue waves – much less the kind of overwhelming artificiality that many modern fragrances (for men and for women!) display. No, I’m talking about the aromatic delicacy that is possible in various parts of Austria, particularly with indigenous grape varieties like the white Grüner Veltliner and the red Blaufränkisch (aka Kékfrankos / Lemberger), or well-integrated immigrants like the white Riesling (from Germany) and Sauvignon Blanc (from the Loire in France). Let’s start with tannic red … Continue reading The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott

#WineWednesday Spotlight #5: Merry Christmas with the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig

Sometimes it is tricky to have all your kids at home at the same time. As your kids get older, there’s something you understand very quickly: you need to be flexible with your schedule and that’s why we celebrated Christmas on Saturday December 19th. On the menu, we had a choucroute garnie, one of my daughter’s favorite dishes and a recipe that comes from my mom’s old pressure cooker cookbook. We’re also lucky to have a fantastic German butcher in the neighborhood where we can buy his own fermented sauerkraut, smoked meat and sausages. The recipe is really easy. Layer up the sauerkraut with bacon, smoked pork chops, sausages, onions, and carrots. Don’t forget the secret ingredient: a tart apple. Spice it with black peppercorns, cloves, and juniper berries, pour a bottle of Riesling, close the cooker lid, and cook for an hour. Serve with steamed potatoes and frankfurters. Although the dish calls for Alsatian Riesling, I really like it with the Austrian Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig. Organically farmed by the Maier family, the Rosensteig vineyard (“rose path” in German) is a terraced slope above the Danube characterized by deep loess soils. For me, the Grüner Veltliner that is produced … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #5: Merry Christmas with the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig

What to drink in Budapest’s Central Market Hall

In a rare moment of not being late and or lost en route to a winery, we had the fortune to eat and drink our way through the Central Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok) in Budapest this past spring. Built in 1897 and comprised of three enormous levels (10,000 sq meters), it looks like a combination of a train station and a massive Church devoted to everything I want to eat and drink. It’s one of the finest markets in Europe. Taking into account that all of our new Blue Danube Wine arrivals from Austria and Hungary were grown within 2-3 hours drive from the market, I’d like to use the adage of what grows together goes together to introduce them. Starting in the basement level, it’s readily apparent that you’re entering ground zero for fermented fruits and vegetables. Pickle art is definitely a thing, and many venders grow their own produce. Much like a Viennese Heuriger grows and makes its own wines, the co-fermented field blends like Peter Bernreiter’s 2014 Gemischter Satz, 2014 Grüner Veltliner and 2014 Heuriger Liter all have the brightness and aromatics for furthering fermented consumption. A little further West along the Danube is the small town of … Continue reading What to drink in Budapest’s Central Market Hall

Follow the Liter

Whether you are hosting a dinner party or need the perfect wine for a lazy day at the beach, a liter bottle is the answer. Think about it: it’s 33% more wine! Not only does this format provide more volume, it is also greener for the environment and the wines tend to be low in alcohol, refreshing, and alarmingly easy to drink. As the 1-Liter trend is getting more and more popular, we have now quite a collection of liters from several countries and a dizzying array of grape varieties. Our newest 1 Liter: the 2013 Pfneisl Blaufränker Rather than make wine with their father and uncles who run the well established family estate in Austria, Birgit and Katrin Pfneisl decided to farm their ancestral vines In Sopron, Hungary, where Blaufränkisch is Kékfrankos and Pfneisl is Pfneiszl. Organic farming, old vines and wild fermentation all contribute to the finesse of their wines. Their Kékfrankos has always been more Blaufränkisch than most Blaufränkisch so we were happy to discover Birgit and Katrin’s increasing involvement in the Austrian estate and immediately taken with the results. Blaufränker is that wine: a collaborative wine project between Blue Danube Wine Co and the Pfneisl sisters, … Continue reading Follow the Liter