Respect for tradition

“There couldn’t be a more perfect inn,” said Christian Seiler in the NZZ, writing about the Winterstellgut, “an opinion also based upon the atmosphere here.”

This may have something to do with the fact that every dish prepared at the Winterstellgut includes one ingredient that enjoys a long and great tradition in the Lammer Valley: respect.

He is referring to how the guests are treated, to the use of locally sourced produce and how no part of an animal goes to waste in creating culinary specialities. But respect also applies to the knowledge that the people of Annaberg have handed down through the ages. That’s why many of the Winterstellgut’s typical specialities are based on old local recipes.

And why chef Erwin Werlberger also maintains another tradition of the Lammer Valley farmers: self-sufficiency. So the Winterstellgut cures its own ham and bacon, and makes jams and compotes from its own fruit and vegetables.

On request, it is possible to watch the production of two essential foodstuffs: schnapps being produced in the distillery behind the main building, and sour dough bread being freshly baked in the freestanding cabin opposite the dance floor.

There are no foods that make it from the ground to the plate more quickly than salads and herbs: the carefully tended kitchen garden sprouts right in front of the main door.


Home baked

Once a week the Winterstellgut is filled with the aroma of caraway and beechwood chips, soft dough and crispy crusts. Because once a week, Erwin Werlberger can be found making fresh, home baked bread in the bakery at the courtyard’s entrance.
Made from water, flour, sour dough and seasoning, it requires guests to exercise considerable self-restraint: to eat only so much at breakfast or mealtimes so that there is still enough room for the courses to follow.


Home made

A hundred years ago, almost every farm had its own distillery for making delicious clear brandies from apples, pears and nuts. Today, there are still around 94,000 private distilleries in Austria. One of which is in operation at the Winterstellgut, located right next to the bakery. Within the confines of the cosy brick vaults, schnapps is still made in the traditional way – using state-of-the-art equipment which is nevertheless based on many traditional elements. The mash is heated with wood, the hundred litre capacity mash tun is made of hand-hammered copper, which thanks to its catalytic effect keeps the distillate especially pure, and an intensifier is still used to help the distillation process.
B80Q3518This historically inspired still has both an advantage and a disadvantage in practice. The disadvantage is that the distiller has to use all of his skills, because nothing is automated. The advantage is that the distiller is able to use all of his skills, because nothing is automated. Enter Siegi Herzog from Saalfelden. Austria’s multiple “Distiller of the Year” had the distillery custom-built and operates it himself with the utmost care and respect.


Baited, caught and prepared by us

The people of the Lammer Valley were never well-off. So every rural family and their farm hands had to be self-sufficient. For this they turned to nature: fruit and vegetables, milk and eggs formed the basis of nutritious and tasty meals, carefully and imaginatively prepared by the farmers’ wives according to traditional recipes. It is a tradition upheld by the Winterstellgut.
Almost all of the ingredients prepared in the Winterstellgut kitchen can be found practically on the doorstep; fruit, vegetables, fish, eggs, meat and butter. Many of the ingredients are harvested within a stone’s throw of the Winterstellgut: like the chanterelles from the forest behind the inn or the cherries, apples and plums from Mandlhof farm.


Planted and picked by hand

Of all the ingredients, nothing makes it to the plate more quickly than herbs: they are grown in the kitchen garden right on the Winterstellgut’s doorstep.

Herbs are specially grown to accompany every type of dish: sage and rosemary for meat dishes, chives and parsley for salads and potatoes, horsemint for desserts, and the versatile thyme and oregano.

Over by the pond grow wild herbs, easily mistaken by the layperson for weeds: common sorrel, wild fennel, which makes heavy dishes more easily digestible, yarrow, which improves circulation. The bitter taste of daisies and dandelions in salads alerts the salivary glands and stomach to release extra digestive juices and improve appetite. And even the nettles that grow on the edge of the forest are a popular ingredient in Winterstellgut cuisine: the young leaves can be made into soup, the seeds used as a nutty addition to salads.
Das Winterstellgut