Franz Prager, co-founder of the Vinea Wachau, had already earned a reputation for his wines when Toni Bodenstein married into the family. The marriage of Franz’s daughter, Ilse, to Dr. Toni Bodenstein in the 1990s was the catalyst for a sweeping renaissance at the winery. Bodenstein, a biologist, geologist, and historian, spent years studying the geology of the region and focused much of his attention on preserving genetic diversity. His “Arche Noah” project, a planting of old Grüner Veltliner and Riesling clones, resulted from his research. Bodenstein’s scholarly approach, passion for biodiversity, and brilliant winemaking has elevated Prager to the highest echelon of Austrian wine producers.
Location of Vineyard
The Prager estate is made up of 17.5 hectares planted to 60% Riesling and 40% to Grüner Veltliner. Located on steep terraces, the vineyards are partly in Weiβenkirchen (Hinter der Burg, Hinter Seiber, Steinriegl, Zwerithaler, Klaus, and Achleiten), partly in Dürnstein (Kaiserberg, Hollerin, and Liebenberg), and are planted at extremely high densities of up to 15,000 plants per hectare. Bodenstein makes four different wines from the famed Achleiten vineyard including Wachstum Bodenstein Grüner Veltliner (from 110 clones), and Stockkultur Grüner Veltliner produced from a patch of very old post-trained vines at the top of Achleiten. Wachstum Bodenstein Riesling (from 25 clones) comes from the upper terraces of Hinter Seiber.
Prager belongs to the prestigious Vinea Wachau and vinifies under the strict parameters of their codex. Harvest is typically from October to November. Grapes are hand-harvested, sorted to eliminate botrytis, and sent directly to press where they’re fermented by what Bodenstein describes as “controlled spontaneous fermentation.” Toni Bodenstein prevents malolactic fermentation from occurring. Since 1996, Prager wines have been vinified entirely in stainless-steel tanks. This minimalist approach reveals wines of precision and elegance, moderate levels of alcohol, and clear expression of origin. “Vom Stein zum Wein” (from rocks to wine) is Toni Bodenstein’s motto and his ideology is reflected by his non-interventionist methods in the cellar.