The Wachau Climate
The narrow Wachau Valley is situated between the high plateaus of the Forest District (2,300-3,300 feet above sea level) and the Dunkelsteiner Forest (1,600-2,300 feet above sea level). The Danube River Gorge is advantageously protected here from the north and the west resulting in a microclimate that is otherwise found only much farther south. This has resulted in the development of a unique flora and fauna. This unique climate and landscape combined with weathered primary rock soils is also the explanation why wine cultivation has established itself here as the dominating form of agriculture.
Two major factors greatly influence the unique Wachau climate and the quality of the Domäne Wachau wines:
Cool Atlantic air flows into the Wachau Valley lending the climate a continental character with cold winters and hot, dry summers, whereby heat dams are prevented by the temperature regulating water flow of the Danube River.
Warm air masses reach the Danube Gorge from the Pannonian Steppe in the east which moderates the climate in the colder half of the year. In favourable vintages grapes can be left to ripen on the vine until November, providing the precondition for the world famous Smaragd wines.
More local influences such as the crisp forest air from the north and cool fall winds down the vineyard slopes amplify the temperature swings between day and night. This promotes the development of aromas in the grapes particularly in the weeks preceding harvest. The complex, crisp fruit and racy character of the wines of the Wachau are the result of these unique climate conditions.