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Archduke Johann of Austria

Archduke John (Johann) of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (born: January 20th, 1782, Florence; died: May 11th, 1859, Graz) was born as Johann Baptist Joseph Fabian Sebastian von Österreich, also known as Archduke Johann; he was an Austrian archduke and Field Marshal.

Archduke Johann was born thirteenth of sixteen children of the Habsburg grand duke Leopold of Tuscany (who would later become Emperor Leopold II) and Maria Louisa of Spain, daughter of the then Spanish King Charles III of Spain. He was a free-willing member of the Age of Enlightenment, grandson of Maria Theresa.


Operation in the Štajerska (Styria) region

In 1811, in Graz, by offering his own collections, he contributed to the establishment of the first provincial museum, now known as the Joanneum. Thanks to him, in 1817, the Styrian Provincial Archives was founded in Vordernberg and in 1826 a mining and iron school was opened. He participated in the establishment of the Styrian Savings Bank and Anna's Children's Hospital in Graz. In 1828, he founded the insurance company Grazer Wechselseitige, now known as Grawe, and by its establishment, he tried to improve the economy in the former province of Styria. In his concept of comprehensive development, he did not forget about agriculture. Hence his idea to establish the Agricultural Society, which was founded in Graz in March 1819, and in October of the same year, two branch offices in Maribor and Celje were opened.


The Meranovo Estate

Among many of Archduke Johann’s inclinations was his carefully cultivated love of wine production. According to Johann, at that time, the vineyards in the Štajerska region consisted of many varieties that were poor producers and their care and cellaring were unprofessional. As the Archduke knew the wine-growing conditions on the Rhine and the quality of local wines well, he decided to transfer those varieties to the Styrian villages.

Purchased in 1822, Johann chose the surroundings of Pekre and Limbuš for his estate, known today as Meranovo, due to its favourable climatic conditions. This would become the centre where he would start his trial introduction of Rhineland vines to the Styrian region. In 1823, they started to plant new varieties of vines, his new vineyard was different from what was then known, namely vines were first planted in rows and strictly separated based on varieties. By the first harvest in 1826, which Archduke Johann personally attended, remarkable success had already been shown, later he often stayed at Meranovo. By 1832, the vineyards had become so renowned and well known that the first vinicultural school in the Štajerska region was founded at Meranovo; this would eventually become the source centre for modern viticulture in both the current Slovenian and Austrian Styria. Later, the school started a fund to reward diligent and successful winegrowers. In 1855, his wine from Meranovo received a high medal at an assessing in Paris.