The estate stretches as far back as 1424 when it was first mentioned as “the Lesehof Tegernseer.” Originally it was the property of the local diocese, but the winery came under the ownership of the current family in 1786, though it continued to grow grapes and produce wine under the “Tegernseer” name. Then in 1981, Kenneth Stagård traveled here from Sweden and married into the historic family. Kenneth and his wife, Elisabeth, started the Swedish branch of this estate and renamed the winery Lesehof Stagård. Kenneth’s son, Urban, and his wife, Dominique, assumed control of the estate in 2006 and immediately began the crucial transition to organic viticulture; for the Stagårds, farming without chemicals and making wine without additives was a way to improve the quality of the wines and, at the same time, honor the knowledge and techniques of the past. They are the 7th Generation to run the winery, now with 12 hectares in the Kremstal and Wachau where the focus is riesling.
When Urban and Dominique took over the family estate they quickly began to reimagine it’s potential. Not only did they make the switch to organic winegrowing, they contracted with local monasteries to lease some of the most sought after sites in Stein including Steiners Hund, Kögl and Gaisberg. These ideal parcels of old vines (both of riesling and grüner veltliner) were folded into the Stagård family estate, allowing them to not only increase production but showcase these iconic sites and highlight the region’s potential. Urban and Dominique are firm believers in sustainable farming and additive-free winemaking philosophies. They are committed to the health and vitality of their soils, enabling them to articulate the unique terroirs expressed in their wines. For these deeply enthusiastic vignerons, organic winegrowing and winemaking has allowed them to harness the vitality of their plots and make wines that are crystalline, tense and intellectually satisfying—not to mention, delightful to drink. There is a palpable feeling of communion and respect for the centuries of history and knowledge held within the walls of their cellar and you can’t help but taste the passion behind this project.
Our idea of biological winemaking does not end at the cellar door; we work with minimal intervention and above all we trust in time. That´s why we leave our wines for a long time on the lees – to harmonize structure, give them stability and embrace their own specific character. Working biologically means – above all – to observe because it is possible to read the soil: its breakages, its compressions, its root penetration. All the things which happen in the soil and on its surface are fundamental for every other development in the process of wine production. This is why we try to understand every detail of our vineyard, to know all of our vines and to treat them as gently as possible.
The Stagårds tend to pick relatively late to ensure optimum maturity and ensure the harvest of golden, ripe berries. Working strictly by hand, they are intensely selective when it comes to the quality of fruit that arrives in the winery. In addition to heavy sorting, 10% of the fruit is manually de-stemmed for the single parcel wines. The grapes macerate up to 48 hours before they are pressed and begin their spontaneous alcoholic fermentations. The ferments take place in stainless steel or, in select cases, antique stone-ware vessels called “steinzeug.” There isn’t any oak in the cellar as of now, but Urban plans to add some in the future. The wines are aged on their fine lees right up to the point of bottling to promote texture and protect against oxidation. Stagård is not focused on producing wines that fit into the classic categories of “dry” or “sweet.” Rather, he allows the wines to find their own individual rhythm and equilibrium; they normally finish with +/- 5 grams of residual sugar and fall between 12.5 and 13% alcohol. These are wines of laser sharp, mineral expression offset with poise and elegance—true wines of terroir that beg to be “drunk up.”