Austrian Talent in Rheinhessen



Austrian Talent in Rheinhessen
(from left) The parents Joseph and Erna Zöch, who laid the foundation stone, besides the winemaker talents Barbara and Peter, who ensure both a bright future. (© Family Zöch)

AUSTRIA (Bisamberg) – In Austria, too, talented vintners are mushrooming. At times some of them even dare to do an apprenticeship in Germany. One of them was even trained in the number one talent pool, the Keller wine estate, Flörsheim-Dalsheim (Rheinhessen): Peter Zöch from Bisamberg near Vienna.


Klaus-Peter Keller, and before him his Klaus, his father, have already had many young vintners as apprentices. Among them, there are, for instance, Stefan Winter, Johannes Landgraf (Becker-Landgraf), Julian Haart, Matthias Runkel (Bischel wine estate), Jochen Dreißigacker, Katharina Wechsler, and some more. “Keller children” Peter Leupold, Franconia, and Juliane Eller are probably the next ones to climb the career ladder.

Klaus-Peter Keller should be praised for his recommendations. Many good tips which is then passed on by journalists to motivate their readers come from him. Now he is for the first time prophesying to an Austrian: “This is a type like Stefan winter from Dittelsheim-Hessloch. Peter Zöch has potential!” He feels confirmed with his judgment by a tasting in the small tasting room of the Zöch family in the Bisamberger Hauptstraße, just a short distance from Vienna’s municipal border. “It has got drive, you’ve done a good job”, Mr. Keller praises the young man, who just celebrated his 22nd birthday, and whose ears almost turn red, emphasizing that Barbara (23), his “big sister” together with Erna and Josef, their parents, did the main work with the 2014 vintage because he was traveling around the wide world of wine.

Peter and Barbara are just about to awake the potential of the wine village located at the gates of Vienna. Bisamberg itself is mainly a calm residential village in the hinterland of the capital with a series of buschenschenken (wine bars located on wine estates where home-made wine is served) but without an extraordinary vintner. But Bisamberg is also the northernmost hill located within Viennas 21st borough, which is located north of the Danube river, the free areas of which are mainly planted with vines. Diverse renowned vintners, like Fritz Wieninger, Rainer Christ, and Roman Pfaffl (Weinviertel region) own a vineyard there, thus, making the Bisamberg declaration of origin popular. The vines of the Zöchs, however, are located on the meadows of Bisamberg village – this is the little difference – but they are also taking advantage of the good influences of the wine Danube. No wonder that as early as during the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) Bisamberg wine was drunk. But this is almost completely forgotten.

The Bisamberg is the northern hill on the north of the Danube 21st District of Vienna - the free areas are mainly planted with vines (© Familie Zöch)

The siblings decided to establish viticulture as the family’s third pillar besides 50 hectares of agriculture and hunting (Josef, their father, smokes a delicious boar salami); so they have started to extend the growing area during the next few years to at least five hectares by leasing and new plantings. They definitely started with the 2013 vintage, producing full-bodied, elegant pinot blancs, grüner veltliner DAC, and riesling. Barbara, the master cellarer, even achieved to deal with the difficult 2014 vintage, as is shown by crispy, refreshing welschrieslings, neuburger, pinot gris, and the white “Junger Zöch” cuvee.

The siblings’ training was not spectacular. Peter attended the Hollabrunn professional school, before he did the apprenticeship as wine mananger at Krems. After that he worked at the Cobenzl city wine estate. Barbara did her training at Klosterneuburg, and the Universität für Bodenkultur (BOKU) (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), as well as an internship at Ferrari-Carano, California, now she is working in the area of vine breeding at Klosterneuburg.

How did Peter get the idea of doing an internship in Germany? “I tasted many wines at many different German stands at the ProWein fair, I was enthused and researched on the Internet if I find something.” Indeed he did, wrote a little enquiry, which Klaus-Peter Keller found “simply nice and interesting”. That is all he had to do to get the permission to observe during some months in Rheinhessen how great wines are made, and what is to do in the vineyard to achieve this.

When walking together with him through his own vineyards on the hills above the Danube river one feels like he knows exactly what is important. The senior, who at the beginning had problems to watch his children radically selecting the grapes, has meanwhile understood that this is the right way, and Josef and his wife Erna are visibly proud of their son and daughter. (rudolf.knoll)

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