A World Heritage site and a landscape that exudes a sense of well-being: This is the
Wachau, the narrow Danube valley between Melk and Krems. Here, the 1,400 hectares of vineyards - some of which are on steep terraces - feature mainly Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. The wine categories of Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are used respectively for light, medium and full-bodied wines with natural alcohol.
The Wachau, one of Austria´s most fascinating wine-growing areas, certainly boasts an exciting history. In the post-glacial period, silt sediments were deposited on the mountains, something that, in turn, resulted in the loess soils as well as steep slopes of “Gföhler” gneiss found today. The Danube river made its contribution by depositing sand, gravel and loess onto the flat vineyard areas. Together, these geological conditions, along with the man-made stone terraces that help facilitate cultivation - despite the steepness of the terrain - are typical of the Wachau landscape.
Wachau - MapClimatically, two strong, complementary influences converge here: the Western Atlantic and the Eastern Pannonian conditions. However, there are also different microclimates at work, and these depend on the inclination of the slopes, the weather and site conditions, and even the existence of walls and rocks which store warmth. Hot, dry summers and cold winters are counterbalanced by the large water surface of the Danube. Cold down-slope winds originating in the northern Weinviertel area cause extensive differences between day and night time temperatures, especially in the months prior to the harvest. In particular, the interaction of weather conditions between the cool Spitzer Graben valley and the warm Loibenberg helps to generate a complexity of aromas in the grapes. This complexity is revealed in the wines as cool fruit with hints of the exotic: from sleek Steinfeder and elegant Federspiel to noble Smaragd.
As impressive as the history of this region is, it is equally exciting to visit the culinary hot spots within the special atmosphere of the historic wine villages. High profile wine makers and top chefs are abound in every part of the Wachau - from Spitz to Weißenkirchen, Joching, Dürnstein and Loiben, and even across the river, on the Danube´s lesser-known right bank. Apart from Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, which are the two wine leaders – and heralded for their extraordinary ageing potential – are Neuburger, Muskateller and Sauvignon Blanc, also guarantors for excellent tasting experiences.