The history of the "Nikolaihof Wachau" winery in Mautern in the Wachau wine growing region goes back two thousand years, it is one of the oldest wineries in Austria. Some of the buildings stand on Roman foundations. In the courtyard association there are remains of the early Christian Agapitus Basilica, where a synod took place under Bishop Pilgrim of Passau in 985 AD. A camp for Charlemagne (742-814) was once established in the Burggarten estate. The former Freihof was first documented in 1075 as the central seat of the estate administration of the Passau monastery of St. Nikola. The present chapel was built by the Augustinian canons. Under the restored Gothic vault of the rededicated chapel, receptions and wine tastings are held today. Since 1894, Nikolaihof has been owned by the Saahs family. Attached to it is a wine restaurant and the "ad vineas Nikolaihof Gästehaus". The farm is run by Nikolaus and Christine Saahs.
A wooden wine press has been located at Nikolaihof for about 350 years. It is considered the world's largest of its kind and is fully functional. The press tree is over 12 metres long and was chopped from the trunk of a single elm. The pressing stone, which weighs around 2,000 kilograms, is cranked up by hand. The basket holds up to ten tons of grapes. Until the early 1990s, this tree press was used exclusively. It has been restored and was put back into operation in October 2012. In a video (click to view) you can watch the tree press of Nikolaihof in action in fast motion.
The vineyards comprise 22 hectares of vines in the Hund, Im Weingebirge, Klausberg and Vom Stein vineyards. They are 90% planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, the rest with Gelber Muskateller, Gewürztraminer, Weißburgunder(Pinot Blanc), Neuburger and Chardonnay. In some locations the vines are 50 years old. Most of them are in Mautern, but the Hund and Klausberg vineyards are on the other bank of the Danube and belong to the Kremstal wine-growing region. For many years now, the winery has been working strictly according to the rules of Biodynamic viticulture. The winery is a member of the worldwide organic farmers' association DEMETER. Accordingly, work is also done after the phases of the moon.
In the vineyard, artificial fertilizers and fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, etc. are generally not used. The wines are fermented spontaneously without technical and chemical aids with the vineyard's own yeasts in large oak barrels of about 2,000 to 12,000 litres and in extreme cases are stored for up to 20 years in the historic Roman wine cellar. The product range includes various white wines of the area brands Federspiel, Steinfeder and Smaragd according to the guidelines of the Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus association. Around 100,000 bottles of wine are produced annually, 50% of which are exported. Apricot roasters, apricot jam, compote, mustard, schnapps, liqueur, vinegar and much more are also produced.