Despite covering a fairly small area, the soils of the Wachau are quite diversified. The Danube River gorged its way through hard, crystalline primary rock to form the unique Wachau landscape. The Bohemian Massif, the oldest geological rock formation in Austria, is the remaining foundation of a prehistoric mountain range. Migmatitic granite gneiss and paragneiss were once intrusive igneous rock and sediments that altered under the earth’s crust due to pressure and heat to form the present subsoil of the Wachau. Gneiss is rich in quartz and also contains minerals like feldspar and mica. Wines from these soils are characterized by mineral precision and elegant fruit.
The Wachau is a narrow valley between the Waldviertel and the Dunkelsteiner Wald. The special climate here exerts great influence on the high quality of our wines, especially with two major climate zones affecting the local conditions. From the west, the penetrating Atlantic air delivers to the Wachau a temperate continental character: cold winters and hot, dry summers. The flowing waters of the Danube river lend a temperature-balancing effect, particularly in summer. And from the east, warm Pannonian air masses flow into the Danube valley, softening the climate especially during the cold part of the year.
The Wachau is now part of the Austrian DAC appellation system. This means the concept of terroir and the detailed origins of the wines are the focus of attention. While the long-established style designations Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are retained, the wines of the Wachau will in future be defined also by three origin levels: Gebietsweine (regional wines); Ortsweine (village wines) and Riedenweine (single vineyard wines).
Domäne Wachau is a member of the Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus, the appellation protection association of the Wachau. Members must adhere to extremely strict quality standards. Even chaptalization is not permitted, in contrast to many other wine-growing areas, in order to preserve the unique quality profile of white wines from the Wachau. There are three quality categories for dry white wines from Wachau that are classified according to their alcohol content weight: Steinfeder, Federspiel, Smaragd.