And just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more to add to Austria’s rich and diverse wine scene, we had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful König family.
Based on the ‘Kittenberg’ within the Southern Styrian ‘Sausal’ valley, brothers Herbert, Karl- Heinz and their mother Anni are on a mission to re-establish their century old family project — Wachstum König — which started by their grandfather, an orchard fruit pioneer, Friedrich König. For decades they were running a mixed agricultural farm comprised of fruit trees, vines and animals. Their father, Herbert Senior, took over the running of the estate and shifted focus onto the vineyards and fruit fields. After he father tragically died in a vineyard accident in the 1990s, the farm was in the hands of mother Anni who took great care and diligence to preserve the heritage and knowledge of the past generation.
Before returning to the family farm, both Herbert and Karl-Heinz acquired a rich resume of experience. While Herbert studied a degree in viticulture, he cut his teeth with one of Styria’s largest and most historic wineries. In recent years he founded and (to this day) runs ‘Laufke’ restaurant together with two friends in the heart of Styria’s capital Graz. Karl-Heinz’ learning focused more on the aspects of general agriculture and in particular fruit growing which led him to pursue a masters degree at ‘Silberberg’ college.
Even though we cannot wait for their first wines to arrive here in the UK early next year, we were blown away by their phenomenal, low intervention fruit juices, which are neither pasteurised, filtered or sulphured, and are made from old heritage varieties of pear, quince and cherry. The complexity, phenolic structure and acidity profile is something we think compares with serious terroir- driven wines — a first to us and we think a new dimension for the context of non-alcoholic pairings.