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Lower Austria's Cider Trail

The UK is a cider-loving nation, but forget about the delicious delights to be found in Somerset and the West Country. Did you know that Lower Austria's Mostviertel (cider region) boasts Europe's largest continuous area of pear orchards? Come on a scrumptious leisurely stroll along the winding 200km panoramic Cider Trail with us to find out more.

The Cider Trail is a circular route, beginning in St. Pantaleon / St. Valentin in the north-west of Austria's famous cider region, Lower Austria’s Mostviertel. The route winds its way through delightfully enchanting orchard-covered hills before returning to its starting point, and its length totals some 200 kilometres.

Following this trail is the best way to appreciate the scenic beauty and cultural richness of the entire region. The panoramic route - 200km long and clearly signposted - links up 20 cider inns, 21 cider taverns, 24 produce-selling farms, and a number of panoramic points which afford spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. There are themed hiking paths and several routes taking you to attractive points of interest and stop-offs which you can reach on foot or by bike.

  • The harvested pears are ready for the first step in the cider production © weinfranz.at / Franz Weingartner (Weinfranz Fotografie) The harvested pears are ready for the first step in the cider production © weinfranz.at / Franz Weingartner (Weinfranz Fotografie)

During the autumn the apples and pears that grow here are picked, then washed, crushed and pressed, and left to ferment for six weeks. After fermentation, the juice is filtered off and is ready for drinking. By this stage it has acquired the designation "Most” (cider), which has lent its name to the entire region.

The Mostviertel has Europe’s largest continuous area of pear orchards, and during the springtime the pear trees transform the undulating hillsides into a sea of blossom. Throughout the year the fruit feature prominently in the region’s cuisine.

Come here for a wide range of varieties of pear, from the Speckbirne to Pichlbirne, Dorschbirne, Stieglbirne, Knollbirne and Rosenhofbirne. Each one has a different taste, so there is a wide array of different tasting cider produced in the region. The pears are hand picked and neither sprayed nor fertilised. Some manufacturers crush them with old traditional equipment and press them by hand before storing the juice as "Most" deep in the cellar to ferment for six to eight weeks.

"Most" tastes best when it's light but not too sour. It can be enjoyed pure, but also tastes wonderful diluted with mineral water. It is natural, refreshing and, owing to its relatively low alcohol content of 4-8%, it makes an excellent alternative to wine. Rich in vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium, it's also healthy.

Individual types of pear are not mixed during the production of "Most", and this fact alone has brought the 200km-long Cider Trail acclaim on the international cider stage. It's not only "Most" that is produced in this area, but many other delicacies as well. Fruit juices, jams, pear balsamic vinegar, delicate chutneys and most recently, "Eismost" (where freshly squeezed pear juice is mixed with water and stored outdoors, maturing during the winter's frost period) are all greatly acclaimed products of this region.

A Birds-Eye View of the Cider Trail

  • Blick von der Moststraße auf den Ötscher im alpinen Mostviertel © Mostviertel Tourismus / weinfranz.at Blick von der Moststraße auf den Ötscher im alpinen Mostviertel © Mostviertel Tourismus / weinfranz.at

The "Steinerne Birne" (stone pear) wine tavern is nestled along the Cider Trail and you have to enter it through a giant stone replica of a pear. It's a real family business with four generations all working together under one roof. They produce up to 15 types of pear cider (many of which have won awards), bake crispy bread and fluffy pastries, breed chickens and cure the meat for the food they serve.

The Benedictine Abbey is a great stopover along the Cider Trail © Seitenstetten.gv.at The Benedictine Abbey is a great stopover along the Cider Trail © Seitenstetten.gv.at

Hiking along the Cider Trail

There are countless themed trails and nature trails on the Cider Trail, which you can conquer on foot or by bike. You can take one of the dreamy panoramic routes between Behamberg and Kürnberg (Kaiserin-Elisabeth-Warte), Ertl and Seitenstetten (Voralpenblick) and Neuhofen and Euratsfeld. These remarkable trails open up fantastic views of the unique hilly landscape with its scattered hamlets and quintessential square courtyards. These areas are exquisitely beautiful during the spring when the flowering fruit trees are in bloom.

The Cider Trail is also rich with cultural offerings. Nestled in the heart of the Mostviertel, the inviting market town of Seitenstetten in the heart of the Mostviertel traces its history back to 1109 AD, and the Benedictine Abbey dates from three years later. It ranks as one of the most spectacular sights along the Cider Trail, its Gothic Abbey Church, Romanesque Baronial Chapel, Marble Hall, opulent library and staircase with its fresco bearing witness to a long and proud history.

  • Morning dew on the cornel cherry blossoms © Mostviertel Tourismus / schwarz-koenig.at Morning dew on the cornel cherry blossoms © Mostviertel Tourismus / schwarz-koenig.at
  • Mostviertel Dirndlfruechte © weinfranz.at / weinfranz.at Mostviertel Dirndlfruechte © weinfranz.at / weinfranz.at
  • Most of the cornel cherry harvest is still done manualy © Mostviertel Tourismus / Franz Weingartner (Weinfranz Fotografie) Most of the cornel cherry harvest is still done manualy © Mostviertel Tourismus / Franz Weingartner (Weinfranz Fotografie)
  • The organic cornel cherry products sold only in the small shop on the family farm © weinfranz.at / Franz Weingartner (Weinfranz Fotografie) The organic cornel cherry products sold only in the small shop on the family farm © weinfranz.at / Franz Weingartner (Weinfranz Fotografie)

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