In the heart of Austria’s Wachau wine region sits a delightful little town named Dürnstein, which is definitely worth an overnight stop. While visiting last month we enjoyed a boat ride up and down the Danube River, relished in the view of the distinctly blue Abbey Church, and explored the small town and it’s lovely shops that sit below the medieval castle from which the city gained its name.
Here the grapes grow, the wine flows and heurigen await their visitors. A heurige is a wine tavern usually attached to the winemakers’ home. This is where the family’s wine of the most recent vintage, sometimes along with some rustic food, is served. Only the owner’s wine is served here, and traditionally the winemaker and his family make all of the food from scratch. The word “heurige” is used for both the wine of the latest vintage as well as the tavern where it is consumed.
While visiting Dürnstein we were fortunate enough to happen upon the Winery (and Heuriger) Stockingerhof. The winemaker and owner Peter, along with his lovely wife, were gracious hosts. We stopped for a glass of wine in the afternoon, where we enjoyed a Grüner Veltliner Steinfeder 2010 as well as a Riesling Smaragd 2010. When Peter discovered we were fellow lovers of golf, he presented a bottle of his “Birdie One”, a Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2011. This wine was ranked among the top 3 wines in both the Wine & Spirit Asia Challenge in Singapore and the Decanter World Wine Award in London. Over 30,000 of the best wines of the world entered these contests, so you can imagine what a nice wine this is.
We returned that night for dinner and ordered a Caprese Salad and the Mushroom Goulash. Oh my, what a wonderful meal. The Goulash was to die for, served with large warm rolls that we used to soak up the juice from the Goulash. It was by far my favorite dish of the trip. To enhance our meal we ordered a bottle of his “Birdie Red”, a Zweigelt blend made of 50% Zweigelt from the 2008 vintage and 50% Zweigelt from the 2009 vintage.
To end our meal Peter brought us out a glass of his homemade apricot brandy. The apricots used were from a tree in front of us, growing right by his vineyard. It was delicious and a great ending to a perfect meal.
The next time I head to the Wachau region, not only will I drink and dine at Stockingerhof again, but I’ll also be sure to call and make a reservation for the Pension, as they also have rooms in which to stay.
Check them out at: www.stockingerhof.at