Jost Höpler, now a spritely 81 and founder of our Höpler Winery in Burgenland, has launched a new wine labelled WiraWåxt, a Gemischter Satz, made from family-owned vines grown on the prestigious Nussberg Hill overlooking the City of Vienna.
Jost comments, “This is probably Austria’s youngest start up, one of its oldest wine brands and its most senior winemaker! Everyone needs a bit madness and this is mine. I believe in working with nature, by listening to its rhythm. I hope this wine brings you as much joy as it has to me.”
Readers of our newsletters will recall Christof’s father Jost turned 80 in October 2018. This turned out to be the perfect time to realise a long-held dream.
40 years ago Jost inherited a small vineyard from his mother, located on the famous Nussberg Hill, overlooking the City of Vienna. The site was too small to manage from the winery in Burgenland but too valuable a spot to lease out for ‘simple heuriger wine’ (table wine). This troubled him hugely and turning 80 proved the trigger for positive action.
He began by quietly but deliberately transforming his beloved vineyard. Armed with an abundant supply of resourcefulness, a car that was absolutely not designed for driving in steep vineyards and a garden lawn mower, Jost cumulatively shovelled tonnes of compost from the local depot into the back of his saloon car, and onto the steep slopes of the Nussberg. Each vine received the care and attention it deserved. Some were replaced and weeds were attacked. Everything was watered, pruned and nurtured. And all this with his own bare hands; for the first time in his life there was no team to give orders to and no professional machinery to assist. He was in heaven and gradually the vineyard responded.
A Family Effort
September 2019, was the first harvest and a happily pressganged group of Höpler family members found themselves picking grapes under blue skies on the Nussberg one long weekend. Christof, the newly designated Head of Logistics, and Constantine his very able assistant (JH’s 12 year old grandson) were responsible for transporting the freshly picked grapes to the winery, in Burgenland, into the press and then back to Vienna with the empty boxes before the next load was ready to go. Like everything about this story it was all somewhat unconventional but it worked!
Brothers, sisters, cousins and grandchildren – they were all there but still the average age of the picker was above 70!! Dorli, Jost’s wife of 49 years, who is famous for the original Höpler labels, designed a fabulous new WiraWåxt logo complete with Vienna’s famous St Stephen’s Cathedral and Ferris wheel in the background, symbolising pictorially exactly what is in the bottle.
Now finally all can be revealed!
WiraWåxt –is a brand that has been in our family since the mid 19 century. It was legally protected by Jost’s grandfather in 1932 and has not been in use since his death in 1943. It is the third oldest wine brand in Austria.
It is a word that certainly needs some explaining! Phonetically it is pronounced ‘Vera Vaxt’. It is the colloquial Viennese way of saying ‘wie er wächst’ or ‘just as it grows’.
This wine is a traditional ‘Wiener Gemischter Satz’ (a field blend) made of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Welschriesling. These different white grape varietals all grow mixed up together in the rows of vines and are harvested and fermented all at the same time and in the same tank.
Three grape varietals that grow ‘just as they please’ – hence the connection to the phrase WiraWåxt! This is uniquely Viennese and the Nussberg, a south facing hill on the most northern edge of the City of Vienna sloping down to the Danube River, is one of the most iconic and prestigious vineyard locations in Vienna.
Taste and Price
Jost comments, “I have drawn on my decades of experience to make the best wine nature would allow me. I am delighted with the quality of my first WiraWåxt vintage. The price was set to ensure everyone could drink this little bit of Vienna and enjoy this with me. It is a small vineyard, when it’s gone it is gone. I will be here next year to make another!”
Colour: Light straw yellow
Nose: light fresh rose petals
Palate: Hints of fresh herbs, a touch of spice and fullness in the middle of the palate with a long finish
Pairing: Schnitzel – (obviously!) Asian dishes too.
Price €8 – available directly at Höpler.
Final comment from Jost,
“I thank everyone for their support. It is an absolute delight for me to have turned this somewhat uncut diamond into such a dazzler with nothing but my bare hands and a lot of hard work. This project has brought happiness and madness into our lives. It shows one is never too ‘young’ to start something new and my decades of experience are still relevant. I am proud to have been true to the traditional production methods of Wiener Gemischter Satz. Working with what one has and letting nature produce the best blend that it will allow me. PLEASE HAVE FUN DRINKING IT TOO”.