Evident from the name, this is a family-run operation by excellence headed by Josef Bauer, alongside his wife Eva Maria.
Already in 1794, viticulture – among other farm activities – was mentioned in a document by the traditional family. Since 1983 the focus has been directed to winemaking.
Josef took over the estate in 2001, instituting major changes to improve quality. In the winery, he has turned his attention to gentle grape processing by installing a house press. In the vineyards, he shifted to solely organic practices (certified since 2011) from cover crops to creating optimal conditions for predators to dissuade pests that could affect the vines.
These practices literally enlivened the soil and burst its biodiversity which ultimately reflects in their wines.
In Grossriedenthal we trust
Located in Grossriedenthal in the upper part of the Wagram region, Bauer’s vineyards stretch out from the village church steps at 278 m to 355 m above sea level. Situated on the "break point" between the older, higher plateau and the river valley, they constitute some of the highest vineyards in the Wagram region.
In a region affected by continental climate, this position tempers the hot summer days which lends the Bauer wines their distinctive freshness. This is an area where the cool Alpine northern winds encounter the warm breezes from the south-east Pannonian plains creating a perfect microclimate for viticulture. During the growing period, warm and dry days followed by much cooler nights conspire to enhance the vital flavor profiles of the grapes.
Soil composition varies between patches of lands, but at the heart of it all lies Loess. Blown in multiple layers during the last ice age (about 100.000 to 10.000 years), it covers the subsoil with marine deposits and alluvial gravels, shaping the landscape. One can still find today stone shells and stone snails there.
Due to its valuable mineral composition, the loess soil creates a balanced depository of nutrients. And thanks to its small granules and high capillary, it has good water-storage capacities. It allows the vines to send roots deep into the soil and always be assured of a sufficient supply of water and nutrients.
Loess, fossils and minerals create an ecosystem that lends the wines verifiably unique characteristics: long lasting and delicate fruit with enough body and spiciness that strike the palate with a typical creaminess.
The revival of Roter Veltliner
An ancient variety whose origins remain unknown - probably cultivated since Roman times - it had its heyday under the Habsburg monarchy with plantings all over central Europe. By the first decade of the 21st century all what was left of it were 200 ha mainly found in Wagram.
Very demanding in the vineyard, late ripening and requiring warm sites, growers turned their backs on it until it virtually disappeared in favour of the more accommodating – genetically unrelated - Grüner Veltliner.
However, in an era of global warming, it is these same characteristics that make Roter Veltliner particularly appealing. In 2008, a group of organic producers – including Josef Bauer - decided to tap into this potential and start a recovery program with the help of Slow Food Waldviertel. This effort was rewarded in 2011 when Roter Veltliner was included in the The Ark of Taste project of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity that aims – among other things - to preserve cultural and traditional old plant varieties at risk of extinction.
Finally in 2020, these 10 Austrian organic growers decided to join forces under the name “Roter Veltliner Donauterrassen”. Amongst which of course is Familie Bauer. Their mission is to restore the attention they believe this variety deserves by gathering and disseminating information and passing it on to the next generation.
As its name suggests (Roter meaning red), its rather thick pinkish skins protect it from sunburn. To make the variety even fitter for the future, the association selects especially vital vines and propagate them. “Intravarietal diversity is a form of life insurance for the possible changes to come,” the group states.