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Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

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Discover the racy Schilcher & Südsteiermark wine growing districts of Styria.


Food Travel, Austria, Travel with Locals, Travel Videos, Europe, Travel Blog , 0

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“And right over there, you can see the Hochgrail vineyards, having scored second in the national TV show ‘9 Plätze, 9 Schätze’ last year”, Verena explains, showing off a truly picturesque hillside trimmed to perfection over vineyard lanes, houses and orchards. Such is the scenic welcome when travelling to Weststeiermark wine growing district, located in and around the small town of Stainz. We have come here to learn more about the emblematic Schilcher wine, endemic to this area, and where best to be headed than to a 100% Schilcher Wine Estate?

Blick auf die Weingärten von Hochgrail im Schilcherland Weststeiermark: Ein zauberhafter Anblick zu jeder Jahreszeit, besonders aber jetzt im Herbst.

View over the Hochgrail vineyards in Schilcherland, Weststeiermark: Autumn is a perfect travel season for visiting this wine growing area.

 

Wine Estate Friedrich: A wine estate dedicated solely to producing the unique terroir rosé Schilcher.

What now is so special about this particular Schilcher wine? It once did not own a very good reputation, and “we continue to fight against some of the main clichés”, says young wine grower Sophie Friedrich. She takes us around her family wine estate in a place called Sankt Stefan ob Stainz. The estate and most of its vineyards are located on hillsides close to 600 meters above sea level, allowing perfect growing conditions for the wine and a spectacular view across most of Western Styria, from Stainz all the way to Graz. I am impressed by the refreshingly animating acidity of the Schilcher Frizzante, boasting typical red berry notes as all Schilcher wines do. Holding on to my tasting glass, Verena and I follow Sophie through the vineyards, into the wine cellar as well as to our Schilcher wine tasting. We learn that all grapes grown by this wine estate are from one grape variety only: The “Blauer Wildbacher”, vinified to become the region’s typical Schilcher wine.

Zur Begrüßung präsentiert uns Sophie Friedrich stolz ihren ..., den sie gemeinsam mit ihrem Vater gemacht hat und für den sie bereits mehrfach ausgezeichnet wurde.

Sophie Friedrich is proudly showing off “her” Schilcher Barrique Reserve, which she made together with her father winning them several, also international, awards.

 

Blick in den Weingarten des Schilcherweinguts: Am Beginn steht wie bei jedem Qualitätsweingut die sorgfältige Auswahl und Verarbeitung der Trauben.

A look upon the “Blauer Wildbacher” grapes: It all starts with careful (manual) grape work in the vineyard lanes.

 

Auf der Terrasse gönnen wir uns einen kostbaren Querschnitt durch sämtliche Weine des Schilcherweinguts Friedrich:

Back on deck, we enjoy a variety of wines the Schilcher Wine Estate Friedrich is offering: As the whole family is into music, too, you can spot some wine bottles bearing musical names.

 

If you wish to spend the night around here, you can head over to “Rauch-Hof” estate near Stainz and the Friedrich wine estate. It is located right on the countryside, with very little traffic, and you can choose to stay in an old farmhouse that has been carefully modernised to accommodate modern-day travellers’ needs. Breakfast is from local, organic produce (a dream!), and in the evening, you can book an excellent, several course wine menu, with accompanying wines from Styria, of course. Cheers.

Nächtigen am Land ...

Stay on the countryside …

 

... der Rauch-Hof lädt ein, sich rundum wohl zu fühlen ...

… in a place like this called “Rauch-Hof”, offering a former farm house overnight experience …

 

... und abends genießen wir ein erlesenes Menü mit passender Weinbegleitung. Tischreservierung notwendig!

… in the evening, we enjoy a perfect menu with corresponding wines from Styria. Just delicious. Be sure to book your table in time!

 

Where to go visit among the wine regions of Western and Southern Styria.

I have marked and highlighted all of our wine travel tips in the Styrian wine regions for you on this map:

 

Heading over to Südsteiermark, one of the most charming viticultural landscapes in all of Europe.

Cinematic views. A wild, romantic hill country where most vineyards are laid out on extremely steep slopes. The famous “Südsteirische Weinstraße” Wine Road connects over to Sausal, making way for yet another wine trail to follow: The Klapotetz Wine Road. Its name goes back to an emblem of viticulture in Southern Styria, the so-called Klapotetz. It is a large, wooden structure that basically used to make a lot of noise in order to chase any grape-stealing birds away! Today, virtually all of the Klapotetz’ have fallen silent, as most grapes are protected by fine black nets. They do, however, continue as a cultural monument and often double as sign posts, for instance on the e-bike tour we do. Believe me, you do want an e-bike around here, as those slopes where the wine is grown rise and fall, rise and fall … and you just have to cross all of them in order to get your full countryside experience!

Unterwegs mit unserem Bike-Guide Markus von "Benz-E-Bike Tours" in Arnfels nahe dem bekannten Weinort Leutschach.

Out and about with our bike guide Markus, of “Benz-E-Bike Tours” in Arnfels near Leutschach. Not only are the bikes great for making your way up and down the slopes in smooth, easy-going style. It’s a special bonus to have a tour guide with you, who really knows the area and when / where to turn in order to make it to the best lookout points and wine estates.

 

Nahe des Weingut ... finden wir ein echtes Highlight: Den sogenannten "Wein-Skywalk" mit Blick über die umliegenden Riedenlandschaften. Gäste können hier aus einem nahe gelegenen Wein-Schrank

Near Kollerhof Wine Estate at Eichberg Hill, we stop for a look from the “wine sky walk” platform. If that’s not a perfect place to have a rest, I don’t know what is!

 

Auf dem Weingut selbst gönnen wir uns eine herzhafte, typische Jause mitsamt Weinbegleitung ...

Right on the same wine estate, it’s time for a typical local snack, including fresh meat cuts, pumpkin seed oil and farmer’s bread …

 

... bevor wir weiterradeln und noch einige Weingüter mehr besichtigen: Blick auf einen typischen Klapotetz und zahlreichen Wegweisern zu nahe gelegenen Weingütern an der Klapotetz-Weinstraße.

… before heading on to visiting some more wine estates: View of a typical Klapotetz by the roadside.

Last but not least, we visit the traditional wine growing families Adam-Lieleg & Tschermonegg.

“Five generations make up the traditional family winery Adam-Lieleg, me being the sixth generation”, young winemaker Florian smiles, welcoming us to his wine growing estate with a refreshing glass of “Lilly Rosecco“. Chatting away, he leads us through the cellar, the tasting room, the guest rooms as well as the garden, which comes with an outdoor swimming pool. “We sell about 70% of our wines directly off the estate. Our guests very much appreciate the personal contact with us”, the charming young winemaker continues. For 2020, he expects a good wine year with many hours of sunshine for harvesting: “Less yield, a lot of quality” he summarizes. Together with six other young winegrowers, he also belongs to a winegrowers’ association called “Die Sieme” (The Seven). Since 2015, the seven young winegrowers have each been producing a Sauvignon Blanc each year, celebrating the typical grape variety of the Südsteiermark wine growing district. As we go about our tasting of the wine estate’s most renowned wines, I cannot help but make up a shopping list of what I’d like to take home with me. Like almost anyone who visits around here!

Begrüßung, Empfang & Führung durch das Weingut Adam-Lieleg mit Jungwinzer Florian ...

Florian Adam-Lieleg takes his time to show us around his family estate …

 

... der Blick in den Garten mit der dazugehörigen Pool-Landschaft lässt mich spontan beschließen, hier selbst mal Urlaub machen zu wollen!

… including a view over the guest area, where this pretty pool connects with a private garden and a view across the nearby vineyard lanes. Of course.

 

Habt Ihr einen Lieblingswein aus der Steiermark? Hier können wir nahezu alle für die Südsteiermark typischen Sorten verkosten:

Is there a wine from Austria, or Styria, that you prefer? If unsure, here’s a perfect place to taste your way through the region’s typical Weissburgunder, Morillon, Sauvignon, and many more.

 

Last but not least, we stop for a visit at the Tschermonegg Wine Estate and their famous view from the nearby Lubekogl hill, overlooking most of the Südsteiermark wine growing district. The family cultivates around 30 hectares of vineyards, making it one of the larger wineries in the region. Sauvignon Blanc, which enjoys an ideal microclimate around here, accounts for around 25% of the yield. You can also taste other typical varieties such as Gelber Muskateller, Welschriesling, Morillon, Weissburgunder or Sämling wines. Erwin Tschermonegg talks to us about his family history, about viticulture in Southern Styria as well as the proximity to the neighbouring country Slovenia. Check this out.

First things first: Erst mal eine Stärkung zur Ankunft mit dieser köstlichen Winzerjause hier.

First things first: Let’s have another true tasting platter, including meat and cheese from the area with lots and lots of delicious, Styrian pumpkin seed oil.

 

Der Blick vom nahe gelegenen Lubekogl ist den Aufstieg wert: Entspannt plaudern wir hier mit Erwin Tschermonegg und erfahren nebenher viel Wissenswertes über Weinbau und Region.

There is, of course, another Klapotetz up here on the Lubekogl hill, from where we take a look upon the surrounding wine growing country.

 

Auch vom Keller bin ich beeindruckt: Blick in den Barrique-Keller mit Weinskulptur.

Erwin Tschermonegg takes us through his wine cellar, including wooden barrels and a mighty, artistic wine growing sculpture.

 

Der Sohn von Erwin Tschermonegg, erfahren wir, gehört ebenfalls zur Jungwinzervereinigung "Die Sieme"!

His son, we learn, is also part of the young winegrowers’ association “Die Sieme”! Cheers to that with this refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc, so typical for the entire Südsteiermark wine growing district.

 

If you care to check out even more landscape photography and winesome travel tips from Styria, I recommend you head over to my Flickr Photo Gallery:

 

Disclaimer: I have been invited by the Austrian Wine Marketing Agency as well as local partners to visit the wine growing districts of Styria. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Fluent in seven languages, I feel naturally at ease anywhere I go. As a writer, I am happy to share the world’s travel stories as far as creative travel, foodie travel and local, sustainable travel are concerned. Thanks to my young son Liam, I am currently discovering the world anew.

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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