Emmerich Knoll III is the third generation to oversee wine growing at the estate. The Knolls have been in the Unterloiben area for centuries; the 400-year-old restaurant “Loibnerhof – Knoll” is run by extended family members and has a reputation as one of the best in the Wachau. There are mentions of some of the single vineyards now farmed by the Knoll family as early as 1379, though the family has “only” been established on site as winemakers for the last three generations.
Work in the vineyards and in the cellar is a family affair. Emmerich II and his wife Monika have only recently handed over the reins to their sons Emmerich III, who oversees the cellar and August, who leads work in the vineyards.
Knoll is best known as one of Austria’s leading producers of single vineyard Grüner Veltliner and Rieslings and 95% of their production is dedicated to these two grapes. The Knoll’s focus on Riesling (45-50% of the total) is abnormally high for the region where Grüner is the most commonly planted grape. In total, the family produces 25-30 bottlings each year at various levels of ripeness from Schuett, Loibenberg, Kellerberg, and Kreutles in the Wachau and a small holding in the Kremstal vineyard Pfaffenberg. The remaining 5% of grapes include Chardonnay, Gelber Muskateller, Rivaner, Gelber Traminer and Pinot Noir.
When one might open a bottle is very much tied to the level of ripeness at which the grapes were picked. The Wachau’s classification system includes Steinfelder (max alcohol of 11.5%), Federspiel (dry, and 11.5%-12.5%) and Smaragd (dry, minimum alcohol of 12.5%).
As with any world class estate, the question is not so much where the winery is on a macro level, but where the grapes grow and how the producer distinguishes between sites. At Knoll, the macro level information about being on the eastern end of the Wachau speaks to warm days and cool nights tempered by their proximity to the Danube. Looking more closely, Riesling is generally planted above Gruner on the slightly poorer, lighter topsoil that covers the granite bedrock. In the Schutt vineyard, Gruner thrives in the richer top soils that include the wash from the
sites above, a combination of granite and loess.