What’s Doing in Austria’s Wachau Valley
Dürnstein, Melk, and the Danube Welcome Visitors with Wine and and the World’s Best Apricots
Lower Austria is the largest of Austria’s nine federal states with a population of 1.6 million. Located 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Vienna along the banks of the Danube river, the state is known for its small towns and villages, scenic countryside, and Baroque abbeys and castles.
The region of Wachau, located in the Waldviertel quarter of Lower Austria and occupying a 19-mile (30-kilometer) stretch of the Danube between the towns of Melk and Krems, is an area that perfectly captures the state’s rural beauty and deep historic roots.
What is now Wachau was settled in ancient Roman times. The Babenburg Margraves took control of the area with the reign of King Leopold I in 976 A.D., and the region was later ruled by the Kuenring knight family between the 11th and 13th centuries. Wachau is also known for it being the location where King Richard I of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was imprisoned in 1192 for offending King Leopold V during the Third Crusade.
Today, the state of Lower Austria and the Wachau region in particular are known for their vineyards and winegrowing culture dating back to the ancient Roman settlements in the region. Grüner Veltliners and dry Rieslings are the most famous types of wine produced in the area. In 1983, the Vinea Wachau was founded to provide a classification system for the wines produced in Wachau, as well as to establish a set of six winemaking laws to ensure quality.
In addition to wine, Wachau also grows some of the best apricots in the world, which are cultivated in the same soil as the area’s wine grapes and are often used in winemaking. The M. Wieser chain store, which can be found at three different locations in the region, sells popular apricot products including marmalade, liquor, and schnapps.
As you stroll through the region, take note of its rolling vineyards as well as its many historic and architectural highlights.