By the light of the Blood Moon
Willi Opitz turns “cosmic force” into wine
Illmitz, 21.01.2019 – As dawn broke on the 21st of January, under the glow of the Blood Moon, Willi Opitz was at work pressing grapes in his winery in Illmitz beside Lake Neusiedl, south east of Vienna. The award-winning wine producer chose the moment of the total lunar eclipse to cast an extra special radiance over this year’s vintage of Willi Opitz Schilfwein.
“Schilfwein” or “Reed Wine” is a wine style invented by Willi Opitz, one of Austria’s (and the world’s) most dazzling wine personalities. The grapes are dried for several months on reeds cut from the shore of local lake before pressing to make a glorious sweet wine. This year, the grapes had spent a little under half a year on the reeds, still in perfect health, when Opitz judged that the perfect moment had come to process them.
Opitz explains: “We chose the night of the Blood Moon on the 21st of January so as to harness the full force of this rare astronomical phenomenon. We pressed our grapes very early in the morning while the strange shadow play of the total eclipse was underway. We used little hand-operated basket presses. By the next full moon, the resulting juice will have developed into an ‘interstellar wine’.”
Schilfwein: invented by the Opitz winery in Austria’s Burgenland
Winemaking normally happens in September or October, but Willi Opitz decided to make his 2019 Schilfwein on this particular day in January – despite the deep snow! This Schilfwein is a dessert wine made from fully ripe red grapes of the highest quality (weighing in at an outstandingly sweet 34 on Austria’s KMW grape sweetness scale). Willi Opitz was the first Austrian winemaker to dry his grapes on reeds in this way. Before vinification, the grapes must be left to dry naturally on the reeds for at least three months. In the Pannonian climate with its many hours of sunshine, this can be done in polytunnels even in autumn and winter. Today Opitz makes this exceptional sweet wine alongside his range of classic, fruity dry white and red wines.
Huge demand for Blood Moon Wine
The wine of that Blood Moon night is already in great demand even before it is bottled. Imagine: you can get up to 80 litres of a “normal” fine dry wine from 100 kilos of grapes. The yield here is a mere 12 litres. The grapes are lovingly harvested entirely by hand. Opitz enthuses: “This is a unique wine of great quality that will be sought after by people who care about interconnectivity and think holistically. Exclusive wine merchants in London and around the world have already pre-ordered. But winelovers can still order this rare wine via www.willi-opitz.at or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When you consider that the next “cosmic wine” of this kind cannot be made until the total lunar eclipse of New Year’s Eve 2028, this is a wine that would make a very special present for a wine-lover or collector.
The Opitz family loves receiving visitors. You can taste in the winery, stay in the eight-room guest house in Illmitz, and learn, amongst other things, what a fine match this wine makes with nibbles such as the local smoked ham, chocolate brownie or blue cheese…
Photos free to use but please credit © Martin Trenkler:
1: Willi Opitz with his Blood Moon Wine in the night of January 21st
2: The Opitz family’s Blood Moon Wine
3: Pressing the grapes on the morning of the total lunar eclipse
4: Grapes waiting to be turned into Schilfwein
Please feel free to download further images: https://tinyurl.com/y85ws7rm
About Willi Opitz:
Willi Opitz, a passionate, award-winning winemaker from Illmitz on Lake Neusiedl, lives and labours by his motto: “Life is too short to drink bad wine”. Opitz first studied and worked as a mechanical engineer and then in 1995, together with his wife Maria, fulfilled his dream to become a winegrower. Today the pair are renowned throughout Austria and the world of wine for their creativity and enthusiasm. In 1996/97, Willi Opitz was the first Austrian to be awarded the title “Late Harvest Winemaker of the Year” at the International Wine Challenge in London. He went down in Austrian wine law history as the inventor of Schilfwein (Reed Wine). A renowned winemaker and much in demand as a speaker, he tends vineyards and a small winey in Illmitz, where he also offers seminars for groups interested in wine and gastronomy. By prior booking, you can also enjoy the culinary delights of CIA-Cateringservice (“Criminally Good Food”) masterminded by his daughter Angela (who trained in the three-star Michelin restaurant of Marco Pierre White) and his son-in-law Ian (formerly of the two-star Michelin Savoy Hotel in London).
Alongside his activities in Illmitz, Willi Opitz is an evangelist for sustainable winemaking. He consults on international wine projects in Transylvania and Armenia, and travels to less developed regions to help with new vineyard plantations.
For further information, please visit www.willi-opitz.at and www.pivate-dining.at
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