At Austria’s most historic estate, in the idyllic Wachau Valley (just over an hour from Vienna), the Saahs family pioneered biodynamic viticulture back in the 70’s. These days, while Nikolaus Jr. and Sr. attend to wine matters (restoring a 300-year-old grape press, for instance), family matriarch Christine Saahs channels her obsession with organic local ingredients into an extravagant buffet of rustic Austrian specialties. The winery’s tavern, decorated with antlers, sets the über-gemütlich scene for Frau Saahs’s free-range goose terrine with green walnuts; plump wild-nettle dumplings; and toothsome salads of biodynamic lentils or corn. To drink? Splurge on a bottle of Nikolaihof’s limited-edition Vinothek Riesling or Grüner Veltliner—complex aromatic beauties aged in giant wood casks for more than a decade but bottled only recently. Bring home: the matriarch’s lyrical elderflower syrup and apricot jam.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.