• Georg Gilli with his family in Eggenburg

    A visit to oil miller Georg Gilli

    Georg Gilli has travelled the whole world only to return to his native region: to the Weinviertel, some 75 kilometres / 47 miles north of Vienna. This is where he operates a mill and pays homage to the region by producing superb oils. Would you like to sample his oil? Here you will find some excursion and accommodation tips for your culinary holidays in the Weinviertel.

    “It happens often that it’s only after a two-hour tour of the mill that people ask me what ‘aÖ’ actually stands for,” says Georg Gilli with a laugh. 

    “When you say it out loud, even German speakers who are not familiar with the Waldviertel dialect understand it. It’s ‘ein Öl’, meaning ‘an oil’.” And not just any oil: it is organic oil that the young father of three daughters (5, 3, and 1) has been producing himself since 2013 at the old Gilli Mill

    “aÖ” – with this name, which could not be more regional, the label immediately indicates what is inside: namely Lower Austria or, to be more precise, the Weinviertel, with the seed coming from the immediate vicinity of Georg Gilli’s hometown of Eggenburg in Lower Austria, about 75 kilometres / 47 miles from Vienna. 

    “All the ingredients for my oils come from regional farmers no more than 30 kilometres / 20 miles away,” reports Georg Gilli proudly. “Only in this way can I provide the region with new impetus and sell a product that I stand behind 100 per cent.”

    Georg Gilli / oil mill "Gilli Mühle"

    Fifteen years ago, he was still a wild young man who first off wanted to see the world. After finishing his studies in business administration, Georg Gilli toured the globe’s most beautiful hotspots with his surfboard. 

    This provided him not only with countless hours of surfing but also realisations about his homeland. “In the Philippines they have no seasons”, explains the Waldviertel native, “but I can only look forward to summer when I’ve experienced winter as well.”

    He also got to know the supposed lightness of life there: “The people work when they feel like it, and when they’re thirsty, they just climb a palm tree and grab a coconut.” Hitting the beach every day with a book, a towel, and a surfboard – and no obligations – was his life for several months.

    “The nicest moments happen when you’re travelling, but you’re faced with challenges as well. You have to get by on your own.” Georg Gilli returned as more mature person. But for the time being there was still nothing that drew him to the Weinviertel.

    Ölmüller Georg Gilli / Waldviertel, Lower Austria
    • Kogelsteine im Waldviertel / Waldviertel, Lower Austria
    • Stadt Eggenburg
    • Landscape near Grosspertholz / Waldviertel
    • Donau Niederösterreich
    • Culinary delights - fish from the oven

    Back in Austria – the oil crisis

    The idea of having his own oil mill was preceded by a significant crisis. As the son of a grain miller, Georg Gilli never really intended to take up this occupation, and even his father had advised him against it. At the time, Gilli was working as a project manager in the city of Amstetten. “Then my father asked me to come back after all. But what was I supposed to do in the Weinviertel?”

    As chance would have it, at that very time an acquaintance approached him with the idea of producing sunflower oil together on a large scale. Georg Gilli was on the verge of accepting the offer when he had second thoughts: “I did all the calculations and realised that I would only lose money. On top of that, it wasn’t a good fit for me at all. That just wasn’t me.”

    He fell into an “oil crisis”, as his father describes it. “I was completely frustrated for two weeks. I wanted to stay in the Weinviertel, but I needed a purpose and a job. Otherwise, I just couldn’t go through with it.” Georg Gilli abruptly grabbed his study materials from his student days and spent a day holed up in his family’s 460-year-old mill. 

    There, he conducted a strategy workshop with himself and then, with a bit of trepidation, presented the results to two of the most important women in his life: his sister and his wife. Both of them were delighted with his idea. This marked the birth of “aÖ – Iss Dialekt.”

    This is how Gilli oil tastes best

    •                     Fischgericht mit kaltgepresstem "aÖ"-Öl von Georg Gilli / Waldviertel, Lower Austria
      Add the finishing touch to your dishes with a high-quality organic oil only when the food has cooled sufficiently. A cold-pressed oil should not be heated.
      Oils from Georg Gilli
    •                     Kaltgepresstes "aÖ"-Öl von Georg Gilli / Waldviertel, Lower Austria
      Potatoes with quark and flaxseed oil is Georg’s favourite dish. A good accompaniment is a fresh salad, whose flavour is enhanced by a good oil.
      Austrian recipes
    •                     Nussnudeln mit kaltgepresstem "aÖ"-Öl von Georg Gilli / Waldviertel, Lower Austria
      The oil also goes well with sweet dishes: Potato noodles with poppy seeds, a Lower Austrian speciality, are especially delicious with a cold-pressed oil.
      Try the recipe

    A place with a history

    Today, Georg Gilli produces six different oils: the classic sunflower oil, pumpkin-seed oil and safflower oil, and then more unusual oils made from flaxseed, camelina, and hemp. “Camelina, for example, is a veritable flavour bomb: it tastes like green peas or asparagus, and in the finish has a rather nutty flavour. It used to be considered an undesirable weed in flax fields. But this organic oil lends zest especially to cold dishes like spreads and salads,” says the oil miller. 

    Small shops in Lower Austria and Vienna that sell regional products from Austria now have his cold-pressed organic oils on their shelves as well. “Cold-pressed means that no heat can be introduced from the outside during the pressing process, allowing the oil’s natural properties to be retained,” explains Georg Gilli. The Eggenburg native is also a frequent presence with his oils at markets and culinary events, offering samples at his stall. 

    As a one-man company, he is a buyer, producer, salesman, marketing manager, and general manager all in one: “While I might have short lines of communication, I still have a lot to do, of course,” he says with a laugh. “I could make a lot more money in less time in one single job, but that’s not my goal.” He still has a bit of the carefree surfer in his soul.

    Did you know that ...

    ... cold-pressed oil should not be heated? This retains the oil’s beneficial natural properties.

    ... pumpkin-seed oil is made from the roasted seeds of pumpkins? Austrians especially like it as a salad oil or added to their pumpkin soup.

    ... oil turns rancid more quickly when exposed to sunlight? This is why good oil like pumpkin-seed oil often comes in dark bottles.

    ... a large amount of rapeseed and sunflower oil is produced in Europe? These plants have a very high yield.

    ... flaxseed oil is particularly high in good fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6? This makes it a very high-quality foodstuff.

    Kaltgepresstes "aÖ"-Öl von Georg Gilli / Waldviertel, Lower Austria

    Georg Gilli now realises why he returned to Eggenburg: “When I come out of the mill, I am immediately with my girls; I can watch them play and am very close to my family.” He can’t imagine watching his daughters grow up in a big city like Vienna.

    “Here in Eggenburg is where I spent my childhood, always outside doing things with my cousins. Even back then we played in the old mill, although it was not allowed,” he says with a grin. 

    This is just what he wants for his three kids as well. “I want to lay a solid foundation now. Perhaps one of my daughters will take over the business someday. But who am I to dictate that to them?” Nonetheless, his eyes light up: “If the mill is still in the family in 460 years, then I have done everything right.”

    Excursion tips in the Waldviertel and Weinviertel

    Culinary museums

    • On his tours, Georg Gilli relates the history of the 460-year-old Gilli Mill.
    • At the Museum für Fassbinderei und Weinbau (Museum of Barrel-Making and Viticulture) in Straß im Straßertal, you can learn everything about craftmanship, wine, and wine culture.
    • Interactive experience, museum, and show garden: visitors young and old enjoy the honey-making operation with all their senses at the Bio-Imkerei Stögerer in Willings.
    • At the Waldviertler Erdäpfelwelt Schweiggers, in the town of the same name, you can find out everything related to the cultivation of potatoes.
    • Discover wines, cultural events, and wine-related events behind the Hundertwasser façade at the Vinothek Alte Schmiede in Schönberg.
    • The permanent exhibition at Ottenschlag’s Waldviertler Mohnhof, operated by the Greßl family, offers fascinating insights into the world of the typical grey poppy seed grown in the region.
    Georg Gilli / oil mill "Gilli Mühle"

    Taste and marvel

    Georg Gilli’s great-grandfather bought and renovated the mill over 90 years ago. It was used to make flour until 2004, when it was partially destroyed by fire. “After that it remained a family member,” recalls Gilli affectionately, “but it was no longer used.” Some ten years later, Georg Gilli turned the historic structure into a museum. He personally guides visitors through the Gilli Mill and tells them about the craft of grain processing and the history of the mill. 

    Today, the old building contains the oil mill, which is considerably smaller than a flour mill. Georg Gilli bought it used and had the previous owner instruct him on the most important steps in the work process. But these basics were insufficient for producing the organic oil that Georg Gilli had in mind: “There is no place to train to become an oil miller, so I experimented a lot. I always knew that I wanted to produce something myself – from the region, for the region.”

    Now, he works together with farmers his family has been partnering with for several generations. “It is quite impressive how many hands and work stages are required for one small bottle of oil,” he says. But Georg Gilli can only produce his oil in the quality that he demands if he obtains good seed. 

    “A friend of mine once said: shit in, shit out,” he says with a laugh. “That’s about right, because I’m especially picky when it comes to selecting seed.” In the production of high-quality oils, however, it is not just about the contents but also about handicraft, patience, passion, sustainability, and regionality. 

    Georg Gilli is particularly proud of the Demeter-quality Ötztal flax, an old variety that a farmer friend produces. “Flaxseed oil is my breakfast oil. It is always on the table. It goes with muesli, yoghurt, and smoothies. It tastes tangy and green.”

    Even if Georg Gilli is the first oil miller in a flour-miller dynasty, the old handicraft, the region, and the work of generations are important for him in order to create something new.

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    •                     Kaltgepresstes "aÖ"-Öl von Georg Gilli / Waldviertel, Lower Austria

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