Retz, Austria

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Retz is a small town about an hour north of Vienna, up along the Czech border amidst pumpkin fields and golden wheat.  It’s also in the middle of wine country.  I didn’t think we would have enough pictures to give Retz its own separate page, but the sunshine made them turn out nice!

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Retz prospered during the Middle Ages as a trading village for wine.  Underneath the cobblestones there is an elaborate network of tunnels and cellars, designed to hide the villagers and protect them from Northern invaders.  It was also to protect the wine.  Today the tunnels are still there, so we signed up to take a tour.

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It was pretty cool!  There is Dad, standing to the left of the huge barrels.

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The tour guide had fun with Jake and Eli.  As the smallest members of the tour group, he had them get down to look inside, then tried to stick them through the opening of a barrel.

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After wandering around beneath the town square for about 90 minutes, we were grateful to surface to a bright room set up for wine tasting.

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Some of us had grape juice.

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Austria makes so much wine, it’s hard to keep it all straight.  Like any wine region, there are hundreds of producers making wine from grapes most of the world has never heard of.  Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, Traminer, and Muskateller join Riesling, Chardonnay, and Austria’s famous Gruner Veltliner.  We tried them all while trying to keep the kids from knocking over towers of bottles, and I learned I’ve been mispronouncing “Gruner Veltliner” for two whole years!

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But even amidst all that wine, we all agreed that the best thing we tasted was the grape juice.  Wow, that is the best grape juice we have ever had!!  What IS that?

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Back outside in the sun, we blinked our eyes and sneezed, and had ice cream cones.

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Then trekked up to the giant wooden windmill, Retz’s other attraction as the only functioning wooden windmill in Austria.

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It was beautiful up at the top!  You could see the roof of the church and the bell tower, and the hillsides covered in vineyards.  Someone was having a wedding.

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Eli tried a grape.  Too soon, Eli!  They’re sour!

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Grape juice is much better.  Or a Kaiser Spritzer, with platters of mozzarella and ripe tomatoes, and five or six different kinds of salami served with liptauer, pickles and eggs.  We all decided it was the first time we’d ever had lunch in a windmill.

Cheers!

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Wine and windmills were a nice start to the day, but even nicer was to come home to cuddle with this guy.

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