Styrian Fields Are Glorius in September

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We drove into the Styrian countryside today, it was a bright clear day, sunny and bright, the kind of day where you want to spend as much time as possible sitting in the sun, like the cows we passed enjoying their corner of a hilly pasture. Our first stop was Welt Piber, where the Lippazaner stallions are raised and retired. These beasts go on to thrill the crowds at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, but here is where they begin…and after 8-10 years, where they retire. Our guide, natty in an officer’s cap and matching maroon vest, showed us the fake wooden mare, complete with tail, where the stallions hump to donate their sperm to the cause. They do this in addition to breeding naturally, we were glad to hear.

Then we drove across the mountainous lovely green countryside to the top of a hill where we tasted Styrian wines, including five-day old Schilcher, which tastes like strawberries with a bit of a fizz. Here at the open air restaurant a girl of about five delighted in watching us as we sat chattering in English. She came out wearing a waitresses apron complete with order pad, much to her delight. The young wine has a kick that the large serving glasses don’t reveal, all around us Austrians chugged the stuff with abandon. We had more tastings to go, so we took it easy.

Later we boarded a steamtrain for a short ride to a pumpkin seed oil farm. The farmer delighted in telling us the health benefits of this ‘black gold’ as it’s known, and it is damn good on ice cream. He showed us the burly men who operated huge presses that squeeze the seeds into oil, and then he showed us the olden days method, cranking it out by hand. When he said it was good for the prostate I stocked up on a few bottles…plus it has all sorts of anti-oxidents and other stuff that chases away free radicals.

We finally ended up at the Rauch Hof, (pictured here) where they grow their own veggies and raise trout, rabbit and buy only the local beef and dairy products. We went for a walk in their fields and surprised three guests who were naked after swimming in the pool. We tasted their chanterelle mushrooms, the rabbit, and topped it off with their own schnapps, which made Adam, who was sick, feel much better.