A special feature of the Austrian tourism industry is that the majority of Austrian businesses are family run – there is the senior boss and the senior generation and the junior generation with the junior boss, and all have their position and their tasks.
Each of them is an important element that keeps the business running and contributes to the success of the company with their own talents and strengths. And in this interplay of generations, the next generation grows up and learns from the very beginning what it means to be part of a family business. In our 75-year school history, we have had the privilege of educating several generations of host families and providing them with the theoretical foundation, which they have then successfully applied in the family business after one internship or another, and still do. In this issue we bring the Thaller family from the Thaller Weinschloss in Großwilfersdorf before the curtain.
High above Maierhofen lies the Thaller Weinschloss, nestled in vineyards and flowering gardens, on the way to Fürstenfeld, in the thermal and volcanic region of Styria.
More than 30 years ago, Karl and Maria Thaller decided to lay the foundation for their wine farm here. The opening of the Weinschloss in 2006 was the crowning achievement.
The vision was to build a synthesis of arts, to make wine experienceable with all senses. This place of power was to create a symbiosis between people, nature and pleasure and provide unforgettable moments for the guests.
Fifteen years later, the vision of the first hour has become reality. The Thaller Weinschloss stands for enjoyment, for joie de vivre and for unique moments. In addition to Karl and Maria Thaller, five of their six children are now involved in the business and join forces. As a typical family business, the Thallers live, work and think in generations.
The winery covers 25 hectares and a proud wine cellar that houses, among other things, about 500 barrique barrels. This is the world of Karl Gregor and Katharina, paired with the know-how of former winemaker Koarl Thaller. In the grocery you can find the variety of delights of the Vulkanland, purchase excellent Thaller wines and, of course, taste them in advance.
The traditional wine tavern, the so-called Buschenschank, is another centrepiece of the winery with an impressive view of the Riegersburg Castle. Regional delicacies and specialities, homemade delicacies and one or more glasses of Thaller wine invite you to stop in, linger and enjoy.
At the Buschenschank, the good soul of the house, Grandma Maria, joins forces with Andrea Weiler, Karl Gregor’s partner and currently a student at the tourism college. “In search of a new challenge, my path led me to the tourism schools. The mix of theory and practice gives me the opportunity to put what I have learned into practice. Coupled with my work in the team of the Thaller family, this journey soon showed me that life and work in tourism and especially with guests is my great passion.”
But the most unforgettable moments can be experienced by the guests during the countless events at the Weinschloss, whether weddings, birthdays or other celebrations – the possibilities and the offer leave hardly any wish unfulfilled.
Bettina Thaller, a graduate of the secondary school, is the hostess and event lady at the Weinschloss Thaller and is fully immersed in her role. “I love dealing with people and making them happy. The opportunity to get positive feedback and to turn it back into energy for oneself is something that is very rare in the professional world. Another aspect that I find very exciting is being part of special moments and personal events,” Bettina enthuses. “The training in Bad Gleichenberg has shaped me intensively for my further career. Living together in the boarding school and the intensive contact with other students and teachers makes you mature and grow much closer together. You learn to be more tolerant, to accept people as they are and how to deal with them.”
The second youngest of the Thaller girls, Victoria, followed her big sister to the tourism schools and graduated from HLT in 2019. She is now responsible for marketing and social media work at the Weinschloss: “Growing up in a family business like ours, I was involved in the activities at our winery from an early age. I quickly became passionate about it and it was clear to me that I too wanted to be a host with heart and soul. My time in Bad Gleichenberg prepared me for my future career and certainly left a strong mark on me. Above all, I was able to benefit from the exchange among each other and the deep friendships that developed from it.”
But Victoria has not only found friendships at the TSBG campus, but also her great love, Rainer. Rainer Pfandl himself runs a family business in Murtal and is always ready to help the Thaller team in times of need.
For the Thallers, good teamwork and family spirit is one of the most important parts of their success. Whether family or staff, everyone gets the space and the chance to find their strengths and is encouraged to use them. They see the winery as a place of strength, as a place of activity and as a meeting place where everyone has their “place” and their tasks.
The next generation is yet too young to deal with these questions. But one thing they are already doing is giving their parents and grandparents the impetus and confirmation that the idea of thinking of a family business in terms of generations is exactly the right approach. And maybe the tourism schools in Bad Gleichenberg will be able to help shape one or two of them in a few years, just as they did with their parents.
TSBG POWER at the Thaller Weinschloss:
Markus Gollner, HLT 2019, service manager and sommelier
3 years ago, after completing the HLT at the TSBG, my journey began right here. My responsibilities as a host are primarily to ensure that the guests at our events feel completely at ease and that everything runs smoothly.
What I find fascinating about this family-run business is that even as an “outsider”, you quickly feel part of the family and everyone pulls together to see the guests off again with big smiles on their faces.
Vanessa Heininger, HFS 2020, service and kitchen
In the 6 months I was able to expand my knowledge around the topic of wine and got a great insight into this area of the tourism industry with the multitude of weddings and events at the winery. Starting next summer, I will be working in the event kitchen of the Weinschloss to find out in which area I can best use my talents.
I would especially like to emphasise the familiar working atmosphere and the solidarity within our “Thaller Team”.
Martin Trnovec, HLT 2021, service
The time I spent at the Bad Gleichenberg tourism schools was informative and instructive for me and therefore the right decision. Dealing with unique people and the varied work in gastronomy is simply fun. You can live out your creativity and experience the diversity of gastronomy.
I also get to experience these things at Thaller’s. I am really very grateful to be part of the team. In the last few months, I have been able to gain many insights into events, gastronomy and the world of wine. I especially appreciate the family environment and the working atmosphere. Thank you for that!
Besides so much TSBG spirit out in front, there is also Josef Baumann, HFS graduate of 1974, who supports the team with his countless experiences at home and abroad as a mentor and advisor.