Hannes Richter

EU Open House Day 2011

Hannes Richter

Visitors at the Austrian Embassy. Karl SchrammelEU Open House Day 2011 In recognition of Europe Week, the EU Embassies in Washington, D.C. opened their doors to the public on May 7, 2011. The Austrian Embassy welcomed some 3,000 visitors that day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. At the Austrian Embassy, visitors were able to enjoy exquisite Austrian wine samples during a series of wine seminars featuring oenologist and "Kellermeister" Edgar Brutler from the Leo Hillinger winery and Klaus Wittauer, an importer of fine wines from Austria.

Brutler and Hillinger guided attendees through an entire year at the Hillinger winery, from bud break to the final wine product. Their presentation was followed by a tasting of the different wines from the Hillinger winery, starting with the most important and well-known grape variety in Austria, the Gruener Veltliner. Among other things, visitors learned that Austria also produces some world-class red wines from well known grapes such as Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Guests were then introduced to two indigenous Austrian red grape varieties, Zweigelt and Blaufraenkisch. In addition, visitors had the opportunity to meet the Austrian Ambassador to the U.S., Christian Prosl, and could also participate in an informal Q&A session with the Austrian Consul- General, Gernot Wiedner. Certified Austrian Master Chef Wilhelm Jonach took the stage in the Embassy’s atrium and prepared one of Austria’s most cherished desserts live, the Viennese Apple Strudel. Mr. Jonach’s sweet treats could then be sampled by the audience first-hand.

Musical entertainment that day was provided by the Austrian Duo, two extraordinary folkloric musicians, who often perform at different functions of the Austrian Club in Michigan. The duo is made up of Herbert Gruber and Herbert Langegger, who was born in the rolling hills of Styria and grew up in Salzburg, where he learned to play traditional Austrian instruments, such as the accordion and harmonica. Langegger is also famous for his yodeling, which has helped him become an audience magnet over the last ten years.

His colleague, Herbert Gruber, was also born in Styria and is just as much of a versatile musician as Langegger. He plays the Styrian harmonica, the clarinet, and other woodwind instruments. These outstanding musicians are dedicated to traditional Austrian music as well as culture, and they try to let the old sounds of Austria come to life in their performances. In addition, the Open House Day gave the Embassy’s staff an opportunity to answer questions about Austria while discussing details of Austrian green building technology, tourism, business, and academic exchange programs.