One of the eight specific wine growing areas in the Austrian province or generic wine growing area of Lower Austria. It is crossed by the Danube, on whose northern bank slopes many of the most terraced vineyards are located. The partly very steep vineyards are among the steepest vineyards in Austria. The narrow valley along the Danube is only 33 kilometres long, the wine growing area 15 kilometres long. The gate to the west is formed by the Benedictine monastery of Melk (since 1089), in the east it is bordered by the more than 1,000 year old city of Krems. In the 5th century, the monk Severinus (410-482) lived near Favianis (Mautern) in the middle of vineyards, which is evidence of viticulture. The English King Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) was killed near Vienna was captured and held at Dürnstein Castle.
In 1002, King Heinrich II (973-1024) donated the small settlement Liupna, today's Loiben, to the Tegernsee Monastery. Around the turn of the century, the mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger (1844-1910) proffered a Loiben wine at a ball given by Emperor Franz-Joseph I (1830-1916), who commented on it with the words: "I would never have thought that there was such good wine in my countries". Lueger then suggested the name "Loibner Kaiserwein". The Benedictine monastery of Melk owned vineyards not only in the Wachau, but also in the communities of Gumpoldskirchen, Pfaffstätten and Baden. In Rohrendorf near Krems, the monastery still owns a vineyard area of about 100 hectares, which was donated by Leuthold von Kuenring in 1113.
In 1883, the year of the second Turkish siege of Vienna, a fire was extinguished with wine from the Abbey cellar. The fire had already reached the church tower and threatened the bells. In 1703, 24,000 buckets of wine were stored in the cellars, which was about the equivalent of 1.3 million litres! Finally, with the income from the tithe wine in the 18th century, the conversion of Melk Abbey into today's baroque splendid building could take place. Climate changes and strict taxes led to the decline of the wine culture. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that top wines were produced again through the introduction of new varieties such as Veltliner and Riesling.
The terrain is mostly shallow with a high and therefore heat-storing mineral content. The soils are mainly composed of loess, sand and infiltration ditches. In some terraced areas the humus layer is no thicker than 50 centimetres, below which there is bare granite. The Atlantic-Pannonian mixed climate is characterised by the Danube, which provides moisture and has a heat-increasing effect through reflection. An important factor for the special climate is the large, positive difference in temperature between day and night. The Wachau was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the category "Cultural Landscape" in 2000.
Viticulture on both banks of the Danube
The Wachau wine-growing communities extend mainly to the left and some to the right of the Danube. The communities on the left bank with their most important vineyards (sites) are
Spitz a. d. Danube (KG Gut am Steg, Schwallenbach, Vießling) with Almenreith, Amtsgarten, Auleithen, Axpoint (Subriede Hochrain), Baumgartenthal, Brandstatt, Bruck, Burgberg (Subriede Tausendeimerberg), Donaugarten, Fluiding, Gasslreith, Point - Gut am Steg, Setzberg (Subrieden Fischkasten, Landstallen), Hartberg, Mühlgraben, Offenberg, Pluris, Singerriedel, Spitzer Birn, Spitzer Point, Steinborz, firs, Vogelleithen and Zornberg.
Weissenkirchen (KG Joching, St. Michael, Wösendorf) with Achleiten, Altau, Angern, Buschenberg, Donauboden, Donaufeld, Frauengärten (Subriede Traben), Gaisberg, Harzenleiten, Hinter der Burg, Hinterkirchen, Hochrain (Subriede Ralais), Hinter Seiber, Kirchweg, Klaus, Kollmitz, Kollmütz, Pichlpoint (Subriede Pichl), Postaller, Ritzling, Steinriegl, Steinwand, Vorder Atzberg, Vorder Seiber, Weitenberg and Zwerithaler.
The municipalities on the right bank of the Danube are:
Bergern im Dunkelsteinerwald (KG Geyersberg, Maria Langegg, Nesselstauden, Oberbergern, Scheiblwies, Schenkenbrunn, Unterbergern, Wolfenreith) with Donauleiten (Subriede Galiziberg) and Laach (Subriede Steinplatte)
Mautern a. d. Donau (cadastral communities Baumgarten, Hundsheim, Mauternbach) with Alte Point (Subriede Schlossberg), Burggarten, Ladoschn, Prebarn, Raubern, Silberbichl (Subrieden Bischofpoint, Kirschböck, Leukuschberg, Vom Stein, Zaum), Strudel, Süßenberg and Weingebirge.
In 2015 the vineyards covered a total of 1,345 hectares of vines. There was no change compared to 2009 with 1,350 hectares. The share of red wine varieties is 8.7% and the share of white wine varieties 91.3%. The dominant white wine varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling together account for three quarters of the total area.
Local wines: There are 22 protected local wines (see above). The white wine varieties Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Neuburger, Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer are permitted. These must be vinified as a single variety and must have no or hardly noticeable wood tones.
Vineyard wines: The grapes must come from 157 defined vineyards. Only the two white wine varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are permitted. The wines may not have any or hardly noticeable wood tone and may not be enriched. The levels Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are possible.