Enjoy traditional music, good food, and wine at the harvest party in the small idyllic village of Klöch, in south-eastern Austria. Visitors can also try grape-stomping.
Once a year in late September, a so-called “pressfest” takes place in the south-eastern Styrian village Klöch. Regional wine farmers showcase their products along with some culinary treats. Everything accompanied by live music and folklore performances. In Klöch they block off the main road and turn 150 meters of the road through the village into a party zone. Austrians love attending local and regional festivities, and especially grape harvest parties. These festivities as they are mainly visited by Austrians and do not see many travellers. Hence, a great way to get acquainted with genuine Austrian culture …. and stomp some grapes.
From grapes to wine
Grapes are brought in from the fields and are poured into a wooden trough where guests are invited to join the grape-stomping. Grape fun if you have never done it before! For more fun have a taste of the local wine from several stalls lining the party area, and of course at Vinotheket. Here you also find the wine museum with information about the region’s history, viticulture, and wine production. Furthermore, in between the wine and food stalls, you find wine barrel makers, woodcarvers and painters displaying traditional crafts. A fashion show with traditional costumes and modern clothing also provides entertainment at the wine harvest party. Along the road is a long table with benches, where you are welcome to take a seat anywhere, to enjoy a Wienerschnitzel, fried chicken or cold delicacies from the region.
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Hiking among the vineyards
The grape harvest party is running from morning until late at night. Hence, you also have plenty of time to hike among the vineyards in the hillsides above the village. Moreover, the south-facing hillside offers phenomenal views over the Mur river valley and into Slovenia. You can choose from many signposted hikes or simply make your own route. It is hard to get lost here. Here and there you will find small eateries or small wine boutiques, where you can enjoy a glass of wine before buying a bottle or two. I also recommend a visit to the ruins of the medieval castle just above Klöch.
Brilliant views from the castle keep
Burg Klöch was built sometime in the 1300s and is partially. As the castle was part of the Duchy of Styria’s defenses against Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, it was often attacked and was severely destroyed in 1418. The 35-meter-high keep today serves as a viewing platform, offering a phenomenal view of the village of Klöch and further south towards Slovenia. From 1724 to 1996 the castle was owned by the Earls (Graf) of Stürgkh. Since 1997 it belongs to the municipality. There is a small theater stage and seating area inside the castle where cultural events are sometimes held. You can either walk up to the castle or drive and park roadside close by. It is free to enter the small castle.
Klöch is known for its rose-scented Traminer wines, as well as for so-called Buschenschanks. These are taverns at wineries, where you can buy their wines and enjoy local delicacies in a cozy atmosphere. Traminer is one of the oldest European grape varieties, and believably widely used as “Vitis aminera” by the Romans. Written sources from 1440 show that grapes were grown, and wine made in Klöch as early as the Middle Ages. Traminer, with its alluring, very aromatic bouquet, is a regional specialty. Moreover, the wine harvest party is great for sampling the wines on offer and get a few bottles of your favourite.
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