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    Guide Dürnstein

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    The former Rothenhof and Pichelhof harvesting houses
    Where the wine harvest became an art form

    The numerous former harvesting houses in the Wachau region are almost exclusively the work of clerical builders. For since the Middle Ages, winegrowing and viticulture have been the preserve of clerical institutions. Here, knowledge of the skills required for the growing, harvesting and pressing of the prized grapes were developed until into the 18th century.

    Pichelhof, for example, is the former harvesting house of the Augustinian monastery at St. Pölten and an architectural jewel among former monastic ‘Lesehöfe’, with harmonious proportions, wrought iron grilles on the left-hand windows on the ground floor and classicist décor on the upper-floor window baskets.

    At the centre is a late baroque fresco on a flat, triangular gable. It shows Genevieve of Brabant with a doe. According to legend, Genevieve, wife of the Count Palatine Siegfried, was accused of infidelity and cast out, together with her newborn son. She found refuge in a cave in the forest where her child was nursed by a doe sent by Mary, Mother of God. It is not certain whether Genevieve really existed.

    Pichelhof, located near to the Danube, is regularly subjected to flooding when water levels are high and even heavy rainfall can cause a torrent of water to flow from Loibenberg via a ditch into the building. Therefore only the first-floor rooms be used as living quarters and keeping the house in good condition takes a lot of effort.

    Rotenhof is the former wine and trading house of the Bavarian Benedictine abbey at Tegernsee and owes its name to Wolfgang Rothofer, a citizen of Passau and owner of the building, who died in 1540.

    The current name ’Rothenhof’ did not become established until the 17th century. Rothenhof is a typical Wachau harvesting house, like those built by monasteries for the management of their vineyards, including a wine cellar, stable, press house and storeroom as well as living quarters on the first floor.

    Rothenhof is an impressive building on baroque foundations with a tiered wall on the courtyard side. The baroque roof has ‘dormers’ or projecting structures placed in the sloping part of a roof to let in light and air.

    Supported by the Federal Province of Lower Austria and the European Union (LEADER)