The Wachau region is located in the Danube Valley, west of Vienna. It is one of the oldest and most unique wine regions of Europe. Stone terraces, rising up from the Danube into the region’s ancient, fortified hills, typify the landscape. The narrow Wachau Valley is only 20 miles long, and its wine-growing district covers only half of the area. It is the westernmost – and therefore the highest and coolest – wine region of Austria. By tradition, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling vines are cultivated on the same soils across the vineyards. The Benedictine monastery at Melk is the gateway to the Wachau region to the west. To the east, the 1000-year-old town of Krems marks the limit of the region.
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. With the 2011 and 2012 vintages, Wess has expanded his collection by introducing new single-vineyard wines from the Kremstal vineyards near his winery. His daughter Christina joined in 2016. Today, the domaine cultivates about 15 hectares of vineyards.
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. Wess farms his vineyards sustainably, to create a healthy natural ambiance for the vines. The soils are all worked mechanically. Rainer Wess is a member of the Certified Sustainable Austria Winegrowers Association. As Rainer explains, “my main goal is ripe and healthy fruit which can have extended hang-time on the vine.” 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. 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 only, and then lightly filters before bottling. The wines are vegan.
Farming practices: sustainable, but in practice organic for most of the vintages.