Since the 2020 vintage, wine-legally defined DAC area (specific wine-growing region) in the Austrian wine-growing region of Lower Austria (generic wine-growing region). See under Wachau.
One of the eight specific wine-growing areas in the Austrian province or generic wine-growing region of Lower Austria. It is crossed by the Danube, on whose northern banks many of the mostly terraced vineyards are located. The vineyards, some of which are very steep, are among the steepest in Austria, 40% of which are fortified with dry stone walls. The narrow valley along the Danube is only 33, the wine-growing area 15 kilometres long. The gateway to the west is the Benedictine Abbey of Melk, and to the east it is bordered by the over 1,000-year-old town of Krems. The Wachau was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the category "Cultural Landscape" in 2000, and in 2021 dry-stone walling was added to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage sites as a traditional craft.
In the 5th century, the monk Severinus (410-482) lived near Favianis (Mautern) in the midst of vineyards, which proves that wine was cultivated. The English King Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) was captured near Vienna on his return from the Third Crusade and held at Dürnstein Castle. King Henry II (973-1024) donated the small settlement of Liupna (Loiben), to the Tegernsee Monastery in 1002. Around 1900, the Viennese mayor Karl Lueger (1844-1910) served a Loiben wine at a ball to Emperor Franz-Joseph I (1830-1916), who commented: "I would not have thought that there was such good wine in my countries". Lueger then suggested the name "Loibner Kaiserwein".
The Benedictine Abbey of Melk owned vineyards not only in the Wachau, but also in the municipalities of Gumpoldskirchen, Pfaffstätten and Baden. In Rohrendorf near Krems, a vineyard of around 100 hectares is still owned by the monastery today; it was donated by Leuthold von Kuenring in 1113. In 1883, during the second Turkish siege of Vienna, wine from the Abbey cellar was used to extinguish a fire that had already spread to the church tower and threatened the bells. In 1703, 24,000 buckets of wine were stored in the cellars, the equivalent of 1.3 million litres! Finally, in the 18th century, the income from the tithe wine made it possible to rebuild Melk Abbey into the magnificent Baroque building it is today. Due to climate changes and strict levies, wine culture declined. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that top wines were again produced through the introduction of new varieties such as Veltliner and Riesling.
The terrain is mostly shallow with high and therefore heat-retaining mineral content. The soils are mainly made up of loess, sand and rigsols. In some terraced areas the humus layer is no thicker than 50 cm, below which there is bare granite. The Atlantic-Pannonian mixed climate is characterised by the moisture-giving Danube, which has a heat-increasing effect through reflection. An important factor for the special climate is the large temperature difference between day and night, which has a very positive effect on viticulture.
The Wachau wine-growing communities mainly extend to the left and some to the right of the Danube. Flohhaxn, Himmelstiege, Honivogl and Katzensprung are old vineyards that no longer exist and are now used as names for branded wines. The municipalities on the left bank with their vineyards are:
The municipality comprises the cadastral communities Dürnsteiner Waldhütten, Oberloiben, Rothenhof and Unterloiben with the vineyards Heudürr, Höhereck, Hollerin, Kaiserberg (Subriede Lichtensteinerin), Kellerberg (Subrieden Wunderburg, Küss den Pfennig), Liebenberg, Pfaffenberg, Schlossberg, Schütt and Supperin.
The municipality consists of the districts Oberloiben and Unterloiben with the vineyards Bockfüßl, Dinstlgarten, Frauenweingarten, Hochstrasser, Klostersatz, Kreutles, Loibenberg (Subrieden Langen Zung, Rauheneck, Rothenberg, Süßenberg), Mühlpoint, Oberhauser, Pichlhof, Rothenhof, Schütt, Setzen, Steinertal, Trum and Wandl.
The municipality comprises the cadastral communities of Gut am Steg, Schwallenbach and Viessling with the hamlets of Almenreith, Amtsgarten, Auleithen, Axpoint (Subriede Hochrain), Baumgartenthal, Brandstatt, Bruck, Burgberg(Tausendeimerberg), Bruck, Donaugarten, Fluiding, Gasslreith, Point-Gut am Steg, Setzberg (Subrieden Fischkasten, Landstallen), Hartberg, Kalkofen, Mühlgraben, Offenberg, Pluris, Singerriedel, Spitzer Birn, Spitzer Point, Steinborz, Tannen, Vogelleithen and Zornberg.
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