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Services held for ‘iconic’ Austrian producer Josef Jamek

Josef Jamek, instrumental in developing Austria's Wachau region, has died aged 92.

Funeral services have been held in Joching, Austria, for Jamek, the iconic wine producer who helped develop Austria’s Wachau region into the one of the world’s most distinctive white wine appellations. Jamek died recently at the age of 92.

For more than five decades, Jamek was instrumental in reviving the Wachau’s wine-growing culture, and in 1983 helped found the region’s rigorous quality appellation system, Vinea Wachau Nobilus Districtus.

This system and its three wine quality categories, Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd, form the basis for the production of some of the world’s most renowned Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings from Wachau estates including Prager, Hirtzberger, Knoll, F.X.Pichler and Jamek.

Jamek, whose father, Anton, established the family-owned winery in 1910, began purchasing vineyards on the now-famous Ried Klaus site in 1959. A year later, he produced the Wachau’s first dry Riesling through natural vinification. Until then, most Rieslings in the region, if not all of Austria, had undergone chaptalisation.

At the same time, he began restoring many Wachau stone terraced vineyards – some several hundred years old – that had been abandoned after World War II because their steepness and heavy stone walls made cultivation labour intensive and costly.

“Josef Jamek was a great inspiration,” said Wachau producer Emmerich Knoll. “So many producers were negative toward reviving the terraces. But Josef showed us all that it had to be done. Now these vineyards are producing some of the world’s greatest wines.”

In 1996, Jamek passed his 25 ha. estate in Joching to his daughter, Jutta, and her husband, Hans Altmann, who runs the winery.

Written by Darrel Joseph

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