One of Austria's most famous and respected wine regions, Wachau is known for its full-bodied, pepper-tinged Gruner Veltliner and rich, steely Riesling.
Most Wachau vineyards are located on very steep and often terraced hillsides above the Danube – a naturally sunny location where warm summer temperatures are stabilized slightly by the cooler river below. The most flavourful Wachau wines come from vineyards perched on sun-drenched, south-facing terraces.
Wachau's steep, sweeping, vineyard-lined riverbanks could easily be mistaken for those of Germany’s Mosel, even if the wines could not: classic Wachau Rieslings taste richer, riper and more tropical than their counterparts from the cooler, wetter Mosel.
Grüner Veltliner from Wachau is arguably the most iconic of all Austrian wine styles. Racy, aromatic and intense, these wines are marked by zesty citrus notes and a zing of white pepper. Neighbouring Austrian wine regions Kremstal and Kamptal are the only other regions on Earth capable of producing Grüner Veltliner like this.
The Wachau is a UNESCO world heritage site and a landscape that exudes a sense of well-being. The narrow Danube valley between Melk and Krems is home to 1,400 hectares of vineyards, many of them on steep terraces growing 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 landscape is characterised by man-made stone terraces that enable viticulture despite the steepness of the terrain. It also boasts a complex geological profile. In the post-glacial period, silt sediments were deposited on the mountains which, in turn, resulted in the loess soils as well as steep slopes of "Gföhler" gneiss found today. The Danube made its contribution by depositing sand, gravel and loess onto the flat vineyard areas. Meanwhile two strong, complementary climatic forces converge here: the western Atlantic and eastern Pannonian influences. There are also different mesoclimates at work and these depend on everything from the inclination of the slopes to the presence of heat-storing walls and rocks. Hot, dry summers and cold winters are moderated by the Danube. Cold down-slope winds originating in the northern Weinviertel area cause big swings between day- and night-time temperatures, especially in the months prior to harvest. The interaction of weather conditions between the cool Spitzer Graben valley and the warm Loibenberg helps to build complex aromas in the grapes.