Wachau Panorama

Rock on rock; stone on stone

The dramatic terraced landscape of the Wachau plays a significant role economically, environmentally and culturally.

The Danube River cuts a deep, winding gorge leaving dizzyingly steep slopes of rock (Gfoehler gneiss, granite, amphibolite, and marble) offering little hold for living creatures and plants. During the establishment of monasteries in the Wachau region, economic needs necessitated the creation of vine terraces to manufacture and market wine. Stone upon stone were stacked to create retaining walls for terraces to prevent erosion – a painstaking handcraft that requires constant maintenance. “The cultivation of these terraced vineyards requires five times the labour and cost. Everything must be done by hand, but that makes the attention to detail a matter of course and that always has a very positive impact on wine quality,” says Domäne Wachau’s winemaker, Heinz Frischengruber.

Each terrace is built with flat stones taken from the rocky vineyard it holds in place. Amphibolite, mica-schist, slate and granite are a reservoir for warmth and extend the growing season in a cool climate. Over 1000 years later, these dry stonewalls are not only the foundation for regional wine culture. Because no cement is used to secure the rocks, the walls have little nicks and crannies that aid air circulation to the soil and also provide a habitat for unique regional grasses, rare birds, amphibians and reptiles. Understandably, it is these dry stonewalls and wine culture that have afforded the region UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.

As the eyes glide over the Wachau landscape, one notices that there are also a few escarpment vineyards terraces with no stonewalls. “These are places where the wind has deposited crystals of quartz, feldspar, mica and other minerals to form a porous, friable sediment called "Loess". Grüner Veltliner adores loess and wines from this soil are highly expressive and mineral,” explains Heinz Frischengruber.

Domäne Wachau
3601 Dürnstein 107
Tel:+43-(0)27 11-371
Fax:+43-(0)27 11-371-13

Vinothek Shop Opening Hours:

April - October:
Mo-Sa: 10 AM to 5 PM,
November - March:
Mo-Fr: 10 AM to 5 PM

With support from the federal government and the European Union

Additional infos can be found here.


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