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Vineyards along the Danube

From Vienna, drive along the Danube westward towards Lower Austria. Just past the city of Krems, you’ll encounter idyllic, terraced vineyards of the Wachau valley. Walking along a path through these ancient Weingärten, may lead you to spy an emerald-scaled Smaragd lizard. This sun-loving vineyard denizen is the mascot for the richest, most intensely flavored wines of the Wachau Valley.

Stein an der Donau

Lower Austria

Lower Austria on the map

Wachau: Monumental Wines from Steep Terraces 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.

Kremstal: The High Culture of Wine - From Primary Rock to Loess If vineyards could speak, there would be endless hours of exciting discussion in the Kremstal. Especially because the 2,600 hectares of vineyards here are divided into different zones: the Stadt Krems, the eastern-lying areas, and the small wine villages south of the Danube. But there are uniting elements - Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, which are the key representatives of the entire region as well as expressions of art and culture.

In the old town of Krems, the close link to wine is more than evident. A place that has long and superbly - fulfilled its role as an ambassador of Austrian wine culture, Krems is also where old harvest estates reflect great viticultural tradition. And where young and successful wine-growers, an innovative wine co-operative and an outstanding wine school are thriving. It is also home to the renowned Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) Wine Fair.

Kamptal: Grüner Veltliner and Riesling Millions of Years Young Its name refers to the Kamp river. Its center happens to be Austria's largest wine town, Langenlois. And with 4,000 hectares under vine, the Kamptal is also one of Austria's larger wine-growing areas. Of special significance are culture and tourism, which are enhanced further by the numerous Heurigen wine taverns and vinotheques here. Playing a special role between wine friends and vintners throughout the area are the main grape varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

Terroir, the oft-quoted and much discussed magic word in today´s wine trade, plays a highly important role in the Kamptal especially because it is home of the Heiligenstein, one of the most prominent vineyard sites for wines that are individualistic and full of character. The name refers to the hell-like insolation that utilises the hot, dry microclimate. Geologically, the soil dates back 270 million years to the Permian age, and is composed of desert sandstone with volcanic particles.

Visit Langenlois, the epicenter of modern wine alchemy in the region. This city’s most noticeable wine feature is the unforgettable Loisium - a latter day temple to wine making The steel-skinned structure appears to have been designed by space age cubists. Additional stops at tasting rooms around Langenlois reveal not only traditional white wines, but also surprisingly good sparkling wine, and zesty reds.