2,000 years of stories
If music defines the cultural fabric of the countries along the Danube, then winemaking and vineyards refine and enrich it. As often happens, the landscapes, climate and soil along the banks of the Danube change as the river flows through each of nine countries. Dry wines and sweet wines, Rieslings, Chardonnays, Cabernets and Merlots – winemaking along the Danube tells the stories of the ages and of nature. One of the most famous regions is the Wachau Valley. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its “visual and landscape qualities which showcase traces of its continuous organic evolution since prehistoric times,” the Wachau Valley stretches along the Danube between Melk and Krems. In addition to its scenic beauty, the Wachau is one of Austria’s most exciting and fascinating wine regions. Glacial activity and the coursing of the Danube River through the land over millions of years, along with its ancient terraced vineyards, created diverse geological conditions that help facilitate cultivation of the vines grown here – despite the steepness of the terrain. The Celts planted the first grapevines here sometime around the fifth century B.C., and the Romans, whose soldiers reputedly preferred to be paid in wine, cultivated the region’s earliest vineyards.
The Wachau Valley is well known for its production of apricots and grapes, which are both used to produce specialty liquors like schnapps and wines, including Austria’s prized dry Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners. The grapes are grown on small family farms, picked and sorted by hand, and fermented locally. Eighty-five percent of the wines are whites – a large percentage of those are made from the indigenous grüner veltliner grape. The Wachau is also Austria’s apricot orchard, thanks to its mild climate and ideal soil. The apricot trees bloom in March and April and are harvested from July to early August but you their end products are enjoyed all year long.
We’ve curated some videos to provide you with a closer look at the wines of Germany, Austria and Hungary – along with a special video from Martin Sloboda, our long-time partner, friend, and expert local guide in Bratislava, who shares an overview of the history and legacy of Danube wines.
Stories of wine along the Danube include: