The Pfaffenberg vineyard straddles the Wachau and Kremstal districts, and descends to the town of Stein. The peak altitude is 550 meters and the exposure is south-east. The soil in the Pfaffenberg is a few inches of decomposed rock over primary, gneiss bedrock. Because of the steepness of the slope, the vineyards are terraced and rows are planted across the slope. The Pfaffenberg wines are refined, pure and elegant, and very long, with vivid minerality underpinning the citrus and white peach fruit.
About the Producer
Rainer Wess founded his own winery in 2003 after many years of diverse experience in the wine trade in both his native Austria and internationally. Rainer’s goal was to produce Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines that would not only be among the best of the region, but also express his very personal style and philosophy. He aims to produce the purest, freshest and most elegant wines possible, with clear expressions of the varietal and site. In 2010, Wess moved his operations to Krems where he renovated a 300-year-old building that once was the wine cellar of a monastery. His 2010 vintage was the first to be vinified in the new gravity-feed winery. He then began to acquire new vineyards around the towns of Krems and Stein.
Today, he owns or rents 7 hectares of exceptionally old and densely planted vines (6000 per hectare) on the south-facing slopes of this region. Wess has created new Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines from these sites which he calls simply “Krems.” The 2019 vintage saw the launch of Rainer Wess’s field blend, called Gemischter Satz (mixed planting). The pinnacles of the Rainer Wess line are the Grüners and Rieslings from the great Loibenberg and Pfaffenberg vineyards. All benefit from several years of cellaring to bring their power and concentration into harmony. Rainer's daughter Christina joined in 2016.
Climate: Throughout the growing season, cool air descends from the top of the slopes. This moderates the warmth at the bottom of the slope which is further enhanced by sunlight reflecting off the Danube. The interplay of temperatures adds complexity and freshness to the wines.
Farming/vinification practices: in the winter of 2020, Rainer Wess began the 3 years transition period to organic certification. In practice, nothing has changed as he has been working his own vineyards in Krems (many with 50 to 100 year-old vines) organically over the last few years. As harvest approaches, usually early October and running through November, Wess ensures that the grapes have an optimal balance of physiological ripeness and acidity, with no botrytis. As he explains, “my main goal is ripe and healthy fruit which can have extended hang-time on the vine.” The fruit is picked by hand and brought to the winery in small plastic crates. Wess vinifies in small batches to ensure full control over the process and the full, individual expression of each varietal and site. When necessary, he fines with Bentonite clay, and then lightly filters before bottling. The wines are vegan.
Click here: Interview of Christina Wess
Click here: Rainer Wess talks about his winery, vineyards and Grüner Veltliner wines.