Out of our two days of winery visits in the Wachau, our favorite was at Nikolaihof. 31-year-old Nikolaus Saahs, now the winemaker, showed us around his family’s winery and cellar, the oldest winery in Austria, with origins dating back to the year 985. It’s been under his family’s ownership since 1894.
Nikolaihof was also the first winery in Austria – if not the world – to use biodynamic practices, though not at first by choice. When Nikolaus’s father, Nikolaus Sr., started making wine in 1960, he had no money to purchase chemicals to help fertilize the grapes. They formalized their philosophy in 1971 when his mother, Christine, helped to define and implement true biodynamic practices. They also hand-harvest, use only wild yeasts, and don’t control the temperature during fermentation. Plus they own the largest wooden grape press in the world – it’s more than 320 years old! – which they’re still using for selected wines.