Wachau Valley Wine Tasting Tour

The Wachau is a valley about 100 kilometres northwest of Vienna that runs for 36 km from Melk in the south multiple winding to Krems on the Danube in the north. In the Wachau valley, the Danube cuts through the south-eastern foothills of the Bohemian Massif, a rump mountain range that forms part of the European low mountain range threshold.

The area under vines in the Wachau valley is 1,296 hectare. One of the special things about the Wachau is the viticulture on the steep terraces that rise up from the Danube. The best white wine sites in the Wachau valley, such as the Achleiten vineyard in Weißenkirchen on the Danube, face south-east, south or south-west. 

The Achleiten Vineyard in the Wachau Valley
The Achleiten vineyard in the Wachau valley in Lower Austria © Brigitte Pamperl

Domaine Wachau

Domaine Wachau is a co-operative of Wachau winegrowers that presses its members‘ grapes centrally in Dürnstein and has marketed them under the name Domaine Wachau since 2008. Around 1790 the Starhembergs, an old and distinguished Austrian noble family, bought the vineyards from the estate of the Dürnstein canon monastery, which was secularised in 1788. In 1938 Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg sold the domain to the vineyard tenants, who subsequently founded the Wachau Winegrowers‘ Co-operative.
In the Domaine Wachau wine shop in Dürnstein you will find the entire range of wines, all of which can be tasted.

Entrance of the Wine Shop of the Winery Wachau
Entrance of the wine shop of the winery Wachau © Brigitte Pamperl

Archived wine at Domaine Wachau

The Domaine Wachau harbours an exquisite collection of archive wines in their cellars from as far back as 1949. Grüner Veltliner, the main wine variety in the Wachau, and Rieslings of various vintages can be found on the shelves in the wine cellar of the Domaine Wachau. Interesting is to see the different forms of bottles that have been used over time.

Collection of Old Wachau Wines
Collection of old Wachau wines in the wine cellar of the Wachau winery © Brigitte Pamperl

Cisterns at Domaine Wachau

Before the advent of huge stainless steel tanks gas-tight, with glass tiles-lined cisterns with volumes up to 62.500 litres were used by the Domaine Wachau to store wine over a longer period of time. A cistern is an underground tank that has been used for collection of fluids such as wine since the Stone and Bronze Ages.

Porthole of a 62500 Liter Wine Cistern at Wachau Winery
Porthole of a 62500 litre wine cistern at Wachau winery © Brigitte Pamperl

Amphora wine at Domaine Wachau

An amphora is a bulbous, narrow-necked vessel made of clay that was used to transport wine. The pressing of wine in amphorae, which is currently experiencing a renaissance, originates from what is now Georgia and was developed around 6,000 years ago. Clay vessels are neutral, porous vessels that allow the wine to breathe without imparting tannin or flavour, as is the case with oak barrels, for example.

Amphora Wine in the Domain Wachau
Amphora wine in the Domain Wachau © Brigitte Pamperl

Wine in Glass Carboys at Domaine Wachau

Glass carboys are big wine bottles that can be used for  long-term storage of wine after fermentation is complete. Glass carboys can keep and age wine like in a bottle when kept full which is achieved by sealing-up tight with a solid rubber stopper to avoid wine from evaporation. The stable temperature in the wine cellars of the Domaine Wachau allows the rubber stopper to stay in place since temperature changes would make the wine to expand or contract a little.

Wine Archive in Glass Carboys Domain Wachau
Wine archive in glass carboys in the cellar of the Domain Wachau © Brigitte Pamperl

Bust of Leopold Figl in the Cellar of Domaine Wachau

Leopold Figl was Austria’s first Federal Chancellor after the Second World War and subsequently Foreign Minister. As such, Leopold Figl played a major role in the realisation of the State Treaty, the content of which is the restoration of Austria as a sovereign, independent and democratic state after National Socialist rule (1938-1945), the end of the Second World War and the subsequent period of occupation (1945-1955).

Leopold Figl Bust in the Wine Cellar of the Domain Wachau
Leopold Figl bust in the wine cellar of the Domain Wachau © Brigitte Pamperl

At the State Treaty banquet in 1955, a Grüner Veltliner wine from the Wachau valley was served, after Leopold Figl had declared this wine to be his favourite. Whenever the negotiations on the State Treaty came to a standstill, Foreign Minister Figl invited his negotiating partners to spend the night in the wine cellar of Domaine Wachau, where the tables still stand where State Treaty negotiations continued over Austrian wine.

300 Year Old Wine Cellar

The wine cellar of the Domäne Wachau below the Kellerschlößel was built between 1714 and 1719 by Jakob Prandtauer, a baroque master builder who had also built Melk Abbey, for example. Wine has been pressed and stored in these non-air-conditioned wine cellars for 300 years. The temperatures in this old vaulted cellar are around 10-11 °C all year round, which is an optimal range for traditional wine production and storage together with the 90 % air humidity. The only connection to the surface of the earth 15 metres above is provided by so-called vapour holes. The water entering the vaulted cellar from the outside through the wall provides good growth conditions for micro-organisms. The dark, cool and damp environment is an ideal environment for mould of all kinds. 

Telephone in the Wine Cellar of the Domain Wachau
Mouldy telephone in the wine cellar of the Domain Wachau © Brigitte Pamperl

Samples taken from the mould in the Domaine Wachau wine cellar revealed penicillia – mainly of the subgenus Aspergillode and Biverticillium. The mould Penicillium is also known as brush mould because of its appearance. Penicillium is a widespread soil inhabitant, especially in cool and temperate zones, that is used in the production of blue cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and Roquefort. Penicillium is responsible for the white, semi-solid layer on these cheeses and their soft and buttery consistency.

Wine Tasting at Domaine Wachau

Wine Tasting in the Domain Wachau
Wine tasting in the Domain Wachau © Brigitte Pamperl

Green Veltliner Steinfeder

Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are three wine styles that sum up the diversity of the Wachau region. Wines belonging to the Steinfeder style group provide a fresh, clear taste experience, with up to 11.5% alcohol by volume. The name comes from the Steinfeder, the European feather grass abounding in the Wachau’s steep rocky wine terraces. The Green Veltliner Steinfeder wine is fresh, fruity and lively with delicate flavours of green apple.

Green Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen

The Green Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen is from the wine terraces of the Wachau valley and is a wine that is deeply subtle and strong in character and has a pronounced peppery flavour and racy structure. Federspiel wine has between 11.5% and 12.5% alcohol. The name Federspiel reflects the art of falconry where the Federspiel was the bait used to lure the falcon homewards.

Riesling Federspiel Terrassen

Riesling is a white grape variety originally from the Rhine valley that also thrives well on the steep, rocky, south facing slopes of the Wachau valley. Riesling is generally an aromatic grape variety with high acidity. The Riesling Federspiel Terrassen of the Domaine Wachau displays delicate stone fruit flavours and aromas of exotic fruits.

Gifts from the Wine shop of the Domaine Wachau

If you want to give yourself or someone else a treat, try the Riesling Smaragd from the different wine terraces of the Wachau valley, that has matured slowly and that delivers the highest quality as an old wine with rose-like aromas, which you can take home as a gift in a box from the Domaine Wachau wine shop. The grapes for Smaragd wines linger longest on the vine resulting in wines with more than 12.5% alcohol by volume. The dry stone walls of the Wachau valley vineyards are home to the Smaragdeidechse, the emerald-green lizard that lends its name to this wine style.

Gift Box that can be Purchased in the Domain Wachau Wine Shop
Gift boxes with wine from the best vineyards that can be purchased in the Domain Wachau wine shop © Brigitte Pamperl

Stainless steel tanks

Stainless steel tanks are a common in wineries since stainless steel allows for an oxygen-free environment and does not release any aromas into the wine, as steel is a neutral material that does not impart any additional flavours to the wine. Stainless steel tanks can be used for fermentation and storage of wine.

Fermentation Tanks at the Domain Wachau Winery
Fermentation steel tanks at the Domain Wachau winery © Brigitte Pamperl

Fermentation and aging of wine in stainless steel tanks allows the natural flavor of the grapes to develop. Stainless steel containers are equipped with armature to provide temperature control during the fermentation process. Active fermentation can generate heat that needs to be cooled to slow the fermentation process. However, if cooled to much yeast cells can become lethargic, resulting in too slow fermentation with incomplete conversion of sugars resulting.

Steel tanks
Steel tanks at Domain Wachau winery © Brigitte Pamperl

As it is now common practice to make wines as dry as possible, residual sugar in the wine is undesirable. It may therefore sometimes be necessary to warm the fermenting wine slightly if the temperature is too low and fermentation is progressing too slowly.

Tour Details

This is a private half day wine tasting tour to the Wachau valley

Duration: approximately 6  hours

The driving distance from Vienna to Dürnstein in the Wachau valley in Lower Austria is approximately 83 km.

The journey by car from Vienna to the Wachau runs along the Danube upstream, first through the Danube floodplains and then through the flat Tullner Feld, which is bordered to the north by the Wagram, another wine-growing region.

Hotel pickup and drop-off in Vienna

Transportation by car to the Wachau valley in Lower Austria

Tasting of Wachau wines in the Domain Wachau in Dürnstein

Guided tour of the wine cellars at Domäne Wachau

Visit of a local Wachau winery with consummation of a typical Winegrower’s snack accompanied by a glass of Wachau wine or 2

Return transportation by car to Vienna

Accompaniment by 2 local wine guides

  • On this half day private tour for 2 you have the opportunity to immerse in the atmosphere of Austrian wine culture. In addition you will have the chance to taste some of the best wines grown in the Wachau valley, namely Green Veltliner and Riesling. Before you return to Vienna you will sit in a cosy Wachau tavern and enjoy a typical winegrower’s snack with a glass of wine and 2 while you have the opportunity to talk to your 2 guides about what you have experienced.

  • Departure details

    • Traveler pickup is offered.
    • We pickup guests from all Vienna accommodations.
    • If your hotel is inaccessible by car due to restrictions, pickup will be held from a nearby location within short walking distance.

    Return details

    • Returns to original departure point

This tour is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Booking is done by phone +43 680 301 7720 or email office@taste-of-vienna.com
  • Bookings are confirmed after a 150 € deposit has been transferred to our PayPal business account using the link PayPal.Me/tasteofvienna.
    The balance is due at the end of the tour and can be paid in cash or by card.
  • This tour is a private tour for 2 travelers.
  • 2 people per booking is required.
  • Minimum age is 16 years.
  • Pickup time is 14:00 pm.
  • Most travelers can participate.
  • Duration 6 hours approx. The exact duration may vary including pickup and drop off.
  • Cancellation is free up to 24 hours before the start of the tour.
  • The private half day wine tasting tour to the Wachau valley for 2 travelers is € 898,00

  • After transferring a 150 Euro deposit to our PayPal business account using the link PayPal.Me/tasteofvienna to confirm the booking the balance is due at the end of the tour and can be paid in cash or by card.
  • If you have questions about this tour just call +43 680 301 7720 and speak with Otto Schlappack.