The Wachau apricot ("Wachauer Marille") is a specialty known and recognized throughout Europe. It is one of the few Austrian products protected as its own brand within the EU. Anyone who has sampled apricots originating from different regions will immediately notice the special traits of Wachau apricots. They are so nice and plump and have a fine flavor that comes to the fore especially when they are made into jams, brandies or liqueurs. Apricots have a key part to play in dessert cuisine. Apricot dumplings and apricot strudel are just two delectable examples.
Since 1996, this local apricot has been known by a protected designation of origin within the EU as "Wachauer Marille".
"The unmistakable quality of the ‘Wachauer Marille’ stems from the climate and soil in the region as well as a growing tradition dating back over a century.
The interaction of various climates (Pannonian and Waldviertel climates, right next to the Danube River) together with the great differences between day and night temperatures, particularly when the apricots are ripening ... has a direct effect in terms of forming the taste, aroma and composition of the fruit. ...
In the spring, the landscape is completely transformed by apricot blossoms, and this in turn means that the product has enormous significance for the Wachau in terms of tourism."
(Quoted from "Wachauer Marille" amendment application to Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006.)
Apricots first originated in China. The Chinese have been cultivating this fruit for 4,000 years. Alexander the Great brought the apricot to Greece and Italy. The Roman Empire then spread it to the Wachau, where it has been cultivated for about 2,000 years. The apricot belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae). Its Latin name is Prunus armeniaca.
In earlier times, people grew Wachau apricots for home use. It was not until the 19th c that this fruit began to be grown commercially. Wine as a source of income was endangered at the time by a vine pest known in German as "Reblaus". Expert fruit growers and nurseries developed the “Klosterneuburg Marille” out of a diverse mix of apricot varieties. It is still the dominant variety today.
Verein Original Wachauer Marille is an association that has been dedicated since 2003 to preserving and marketing this fruit that is so typical of the Wachau Valley. It awards its seal only to apricot growers committed to producing the usual top-quality varieties found in the Wachau for more than a century.