The Wachau wine growing region stretches about 33 kilometres along the river Danube from Spitz to the Loiben basin on the north bank and from the ancient hamlets collectively known as “Arnsdörfer” to Mautern on the south bank.
The Wachau, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, combines a unique natural landscape with vineyards, orchards, fortresses and astounding cultural achievement. But above all else the Wachau is an artwork in dry stone walls of a total lenght of some 720 km. Without these walls viticulture would not exist on these steep slopes. For more than 1000 years’ man has intervened in these surroundings and formed them.
Authenticity, individuality and handcraft are the fundamental principles of viticulture nowadays – some 650 growers are sharing about 1.350 ha split into 124 single vineyards and 34 sub-sites. The results are covering an immense spectrum of wines made from two grape varieties mainly: Grüner Veltliner (57%) and Riesling (17%).
The Romans first brought viticulture to the Wachau. The first viticulturally experience relevant to today’s practices, however, came with catholic monasteries several hundred years later. They recognized the singularity of their sites and laid the foundation for intense studies of their terroir. In the 19th and 20th century the Wachau remained rooted in its farming traditions.
Climate and Geology
Four major climate influences collide in the Wachau. Cold air flows from the forested Waldviertel region in the north down through side valleys to the Danube river. Warm air masses flow in from the Pannonian plain from the east and continental influences gradually increase in the western part. The river itself completes the climate influences by keeping the heat in the winter and moderates summer temperatures as a cooling component.
The present subsoil of terraced vineyards are dominated by Gföhler gneiss (Orthogneiss) and Paragneiss, once intrusive igneous rock and sediments that altered due to high pressure and heat underneath the earth’s crust. Through this cristalline primary rock the river Danube had to carve its way and formed todays river landscape. Along the rivers plain sandy, well drained sediments are dominating.