Wachau, a narrow Danube valley located between the towns Melk with the famous Melk abbey and Krems, is known as the valley of top quality white wines. Grüner Veltliner, which is seen as Austria’s national variety, and Riesling are most common wines being produced here. The geological terrain, together with the terraces, specific climate and natural influences, as well as a lot of sunny days, offers unique conditions for the growing of grapes. The wine-growing in the Wachau valley dates back to the Roman times, and already in the Middle Ages the wine from this region of Austria was known far away.
There are not so many landscapes in Europe that have such unique and complex conditions for wine growing. In Wachau, two climates meet one another - the western-Atlantic and eastern-Pannonian climates. Very hot, dry summers and harsh winters are influenced by the large water surface of the Danube. Cool winds from the north, especially during the harvest months, cause large fluctuations between daytime and nighttime temperatures. This mix of different climate conditions and other natural influences creates complex aromas of the grapes.
The Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus is an association of two hundred winegrowers, which promotes and protects the unique quality of Wachau wines. All members are committed to respect and follow the Wachau wine culture. This implies that the wines must follow strict rules of the production. The winemakers may not buy the grapes from other growing areas and must use only those from the Wachau region. The bottling has to be done exclusively in the wine-growing region itself. The most important rules are aggravated in the codex, and they prescribe to follow the guidelines of the strict origin principle, no enrichment, no concentration, no flavouring, no fractionation, only the principle of nature and nothing else.
The association uses three brands according to their natural alcohol content - Steinfeder, the light, fragrant wine with up to 11,5% alcohol, Federspiel, classically fermented wine, and Smaragd, the strongest and highest quality level of wines with an alcohol content from 12.5%. All these wines are not enriched and are only dry ready to drink wines without the use of oak barrels.
Manmade steep terraced vineyards overlooking the Danube shape the striking image of the UNESCO World Heritage Wachau wine landscape. Some of the terraces provide the ideal locations for growing the grapes for the best white wines in the world. In the valley, the high-quality winemakers and top restaurateurs can be found on every corner, from Krems via Dürnstein to Melk. If you want to enjoy a glass or two in the breath-taking scenery, visit Wachau - the valley of top white wines, just an hour drive from Vienna.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.