The Weekly Prompts Photo Challenge this week has the topic of bottles.
On July 5, our Viking Grand European Tour river cruise ship arrived in Austria. We spent the day exploring Melk and cruising; then in the evening, a few of us took an optional tour to visit the Mörwald Winery, and were shown around by the owner, Grüner Rosenberg, with the help of our guide to translate (and mimic)!
The vintner, wearing lederhosen, greeted us outside and showed us his wine-making operation.
Our guide was actually an American (I asked her, since her English was absolutely American-perfect!) who has spent several years living in Austria. She always leads the tours to this winery and she and Grüner have a tremendous rapport! When he would make gestures to illustrate some aspect of wine making, he expected her to make the same gestures as she translated! Actually, Grüner does speak some English, but is more comfortable explaining in German with a translator.
Viking buys a lot of wine from Mörwald Winery, and may be at least partly responsible for keeping them in business! 350,000 bottles of wine are produced for Viking each year by Mörwald alone!
Mörwald is located in the Wachau Valley in northern Austria, which is well known for its wines. As we were cruising the Danube, we saw many hillsides covered with wine-growing grapes.
At least three people are involved in the actual production of wine. Three people working in one room can produce 3,000 bottles of wine per hour! Grüner took us through the factory and explained how different types of wine are made.
One type of wine, for example, is called “Malachit” – this is one of the finer wines: it is less acid and takes more time fermenting. Another type, “Grappa” is schnapps made from red wine mash. Grappa is made from some of the leftovers of the production of the more common wines.
Wine production today, of course, is no longer a matter of actually squishing grapes with one’s feet, but instead takes place inside these huge vats, using heat and pressure.
Here Grüner explains what happens inside the vats using pressing down motions, which the guide obediently repeated while translating!
Finally came the best part – wine tasting! We were seated in a room at high tables, which were supplied with wine glasses, a tub for emptying whatever we didn’t drink before taking the next sample, and water to cleanse our palates. We tasted six different types of wine that Morwald produces (and probably had tasted a few of them on board our ship already!). Grüner sat on a bench with his wine glass and made sure we all learned how to raise a toast in German!
If you ever take a Viking cruise in that region, I strongly recommend taking this optional, fun tour!