The wine regions along the Danube in Lower Austria don their most stunning colors in the autumn, creating an irresistible backdrop for strolls through vineyards, to scenic spots and legendary hilltops.
This palette of colors is as diverse as Weinherbst itself, an array of events to celebrate wine and autumn along the Danube in Lower Austria. This is a chance to experience the many customs surrounding wine - authentic and down-to-earth. A chance to meet the wine makers and learn first-hand about their approach to wine - traditional yet innovative.
Numerous festivals - culinary and cultural, musical and literary - offer wonderful opportunities to celebrate the new vintage far into November.
Red-letter Dates in Weinherbst
The Wachau is a UNESCO World Heritage site for so many reasons. With its unique riverscape, its typical terraced vineyards and its delicately fruity Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners, it is a true gem and one of Austria's leading winegrowing regions.
Grapes flourish in the characteristic residual soils and the terraced vineyards built centuries ago. The cool winds from the Waldviertel highlands combine with the moderating effect of the Danube on the temperature to create wines of great spiciness and elegance while the Pannonian currents from the east lend the Wachau vintages their power and opulent body. Riesling is of course a major grape variety here that is known around the globe but Grüner Veltliner, Neuburger and Gelber Muskateller are also highly esteemed by wine aficionados.
Thanksgiving Wachau Style
Harvest festivals are ideal for experiencing the traditional Wachau and its special local costumes: Bands lead the procession to the church, where fruits of the harvest are blessed.
Just before the grape harvest, Domäne Wachau stages an event to two renowned vineyards in the Dürnstein area. Wine tasting and tasty local tidbits are included. Meeting spot: Domäne Wachau Wine Shop in Dürnstein.
Date in 2019: September 27
Weinherbst in Spitz
From late September to mid-October the Spitz wine makers open up their cellars to the public. Highlights are wine tasting at the Shipping Museum, torch-lit vineyard hikes, rides in a zille (traditional flat-bottomed boat), and gourmet fare in celebration of wine and autumn.
In early November, the new vintages are christened, usually in the presence of a prominent godfather, and then tasted.
Selected dates in 2019: Weissenkirchen November 9 Hofarnsdorf (Rupertiwinzer Wine Christening): November 10 Rossatz Castle: November 11
What is a heuriger?
“Heurig” is an adjective in Austrian dialect that means “this year.” It refers to “this year’s” wine, i.e. the new wine, as well as to the winemakers’ premises where they are allowed to serve their own wine to the public along with simple down-to-earth foods. These heurige are typical of the wine regions in Lower Austria. A genuine heuriger is open only at certain times of the year. A few fir or conifer twigs hung out (ausgesteckt) at the entrance to the house indicate that the heuriger is open.
STURM is the name in Austria for the still fermenting, slightly sweet to austere tasting must on the way to becoming wine; the term in Germany is federweisser.
When the wine has not yet become wine but has moved beyond being must and sturm, it is called STAUBIGER. The designation has to do with its appearance because at this stage it is still unfiltered. It is the traditional accompaniment to goose on St. Martin's Day.
On that same day, November 11, the new wine of the current vintage (in this case 2018) is dubbed HEURIGER (this year's wine), a title it is allowed to bear for exactly one year. Incidentally, when toasting in Austria with heuriger wine, you say "Prost!" (Cheers!), whereas with sturm and staubiger , the correct term is "Mahlzeit!" (Enjoy your meal!).