Wine and saffron in the Wachau region
From the Romans to modern day
The Wachau region was first mentioned in a Carolingian document from 830 but its winegrowing tradition goes back much further. There is written evidence of this from the 6th century on, but it is likely that the Romans were cultivating vines in the Danube Valley much earlier.
The uncompromising commitment to wine origin and quality was formally expressed with the founding of Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus in 1983. Members of this association of Wachau winegrowers only press grapes from a legally defined area and the purity and quality of their wines is their highest precept. The grapes are consciously handpicked, even in setups where mechanical harvesting would be possible.
Not least because of this, wines from Vineau Wachau’s winegrowers carry the Steinfelder®, Federspiel® and Smaragd® labels, globally unmatched seals of quality.
Steinfeder® wines, the fairest of the Vinea top wines, satisfy with their lightness and fruity charm. The name derives from Steinfedergras, a grass that typically grows in the immediate vicinity of the vines.
Federspiel® wines are classic, dry white wines that are rich in nuance and make an excellent accompaniment to meals. The name derives from the dummy bait used to train birds in falconry.
Smaragd® are the Vinea Wachau winegrowers’ finest wines. The most mature grapes and a natural concentration characterise these world-class wines which owe their name to the emerald lizards who feel particularly at home on the vineyard terraces of the Wachau region.
Dürnstein boasts some of the best wine locations in the Wachau region, such as Loibenberg and Kellerberg.
The Loibenberg vineyard, the furthest east of the two, can be traced back to 1381. It extends on the slopes behind Oberloiben and Unterloiben and not only greatly varies in height but has inclinations of up to 81%.
Kellerberg gets its name from Dürnstein’s cellar palace, which is why the name is relatively recent and has only been in use since 1787. This vineyard is located on the western slope behind the Domäne Wachau.
But the growing areas of the Wachau have another specialty on offer, saffron.
Saffron was grown in Lower Austria until the 19th century and, as ‘crocus austriacus’, regarded as the finest in Europe. In 1776, 4.5 tonnes of the world’s most expensive spice was traded at the market in Krems. An unbelievable amount, considering that 200,000 flowers are required to extract 1 kg of saffron.
The regional winegrowing climate is ideal for saffron and the plants, which are in full bloom in October and November, are characterised by a specific aroma. Since 2007, Wachauer Safranmanufaktur has been reviving the tradition of growing saffron. You can find out more fascinating information and try saffron products at the Wachauer Safranmanufaktur’s shop inside the train station.
Supported by the Federal Province of Lower Austria and the European Union (LEADER)