Wine-Making Pal Of King Charles’s Valentine’s Day Treat For Lovers

A wine-making pal of King Charles is holding a romantic Valentine’s treat for couples from around the world at his vineyard in Austria.

A barrel containing Valentine’s Day wine of 2022. (Manfred Binder/Newsflash)

Expert Willi Opitz asked the couples to help him press grapes for his special Valentine’s vintage, inspired by the school sweetheart he went on to wed.

Couples got a guided tour of his winery in the town of Illmitz, Burgenland State, a hands-on part on pressing grapes and a chance to toast their romance with his current crop.

The weekend stay – from 10th and 12th February – was dubbed the vineyard’s Open Cellar Day.

Willi told Newsflash: “Guests who heard about us came from Honduras, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Prague, Helsinki, Vienna and Pamhagen.”

He added: “One guy from Finland was helping me press, tomorrow a German guy will help me for a few days until we are finished.

“They couldn’t believe that there are still companies that behave like this, go to great lengths to offer wine lovers something so special.”

Willi became close to King Charles when he was still Prince of Wales when the then Duchess Of Cornwall tried his wines during a trip to Britain’s Scilly Isles.

Camilla asked him to visit her and Charles at their London home Clarence House to discuss vineyards at the then prince’s estate in Romania.

Ever since then, Willi has produced a special wine every year on the couple’s grandson Prince George’s birthday.

Wine expert Willi once worked as a mechanical engineer and used to make Mars bars for a living.

He made headlines after he released a CD called ‘The Sound of Wine’ containing 15 tracks of different wines undergoing fermentation in 1995.

Grape pressing and production of the Valentine’s Day wine by Willi Opitz from the town of Illmitz, located in the Austrian state of Burgenland. (Manfred Binder/Newsflash)

He also made a range of Formula Wine in cooperation with F1 motor racing aces McLaren.

The dazzling winemaker then produced a Mr President wine dedicated to Bill Clinton after the two had met in Austria.

The wine gained a special place in the book ‘The 1000 Finest Wines Ever Made’.

And his latest project in honour of St Valentine’s Day, which he said was inspired by his wife Maria, has also proved a hit.

For the purposes of Valentine’s Day’s wine, he uses his famous ‘reed wines’ method which he developed in the 1990s.

The method involves air-drying of healthy grapes for more than seven months on a bed of reeds that are collected from the local Lake Neusiedl.

Only white varieties, Muscat Ottonel and Welschriesling, and a red one named Zweigelt, are used for the wine’s production.

After the drying process, the berries which at the time contain a considerably reduced juice content and a great deal of sweetness, are pressed and fermented in oak barrels.

The final product, which is called Schilfwein (reed wine), earned Willi the ‘Late Harvest Winemaker of the Year’ award at the International Wine Challenge in London, England, in 1996/1997.

Willi Opitz and his wife Maria from the town of Illmitz, located in the Austrian state of Burgenland. (Manfred Binder/Newsflash)

Willi said: “Due to the long ageing period on our specially built reed beds, the taste is concentrated and the wine tastes particularly fruity, exotic and sweet.

“The red Valentine’s Day wine has a very fruity blackberry note, followed by chocolate notes on the palate, cherry notes too, and it’s a complete fruit cocktail. The nine per cent of alcohol makes the wine very enjoyable and adds a nice and fruity acidity to it.

“The white Valentine’s Day wine has exotic notes of lychee and mango, and also some light caramel and light coconut aromas from the barrel fermentation, in addition to a lively and fruity lemony finish”.

He claimed that he would pair the red wine with “chocolate deserts, sticky toffee pudding and blue cheese”, whereas the white one “would be a perfect pairing to a creme caramel or a mango lychee panna cotta.”