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Wachau, Austria’s spectacular wine region

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Wachau, Austria

The Wachau Valley region in Austria, a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions. Situated along the Danube river between Krems and Melk, and only 20 kms in length, its steep, terraced vineyards, charming villages and castles can take your breath away. Here, some of the world’s best white wines are produced, in particular Grüner Veltliner and Rieslings.

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Our Viking River Cruises ship pulling into Krems 

This summer, I got to experience the Wachau Valley from the deck of my Viking River Cruise longboat as we cruised the Danube, about an hour from Vienna. I was excited to see it after discovering the region in my wine specialist program at George Brown College.

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More Wachau Valley, villages and vineyard in the distance

One of our Viking excursions was to the Göttweig Abbey, a 900+ years working monastery where 50 Benedictine monks live and work, high on top of a hill overlooking the region. The Abbey is near Krems. There is stunning Austrian scenery for as far as the eyes can see.

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That’s me on the terrace of Gottweig Abbey, overlooking the community below

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The church and cloisters of Gottweig Abbey

The monks grow grapes, and make and sell their own wine, which benefits the community. They also make a delicious apricot nectar.

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Tasting Gottweig Wines

The Wachau region is not large. There are more than 900 sites in this small area. Like many other European countries, many of the Wachau vineyards and wineries are family-owned and go back several generations. Of particular note, the oldest winery in Austria is Nikolaihof, dating back to the year 777.

What makes the Wachau river valley ideal for grape-growing is that it has a short winter and long, dry growing season, and moderate the climate.

The grape varieties the Wachau does best:

Grüner Veltliner: The traditional grape in Wachau. A mineral dry white wine, with notes that range from spicy/herbal, to floral and fruity, with good acidity.

Riesling: Similar in style to Rieslings of Alsace, a range of complex aromas, and salty mineral.

IF YOU GO…

One of the best ways to see the Wachau Valley is to take a river cruise. Check out Viking River Cruise’s offering.

Also consider doing a cycling tour through the vineyards. It looks like loads of fun and you get exercise while you are at it.

The village of Durnstein is filled with quaint buildings, and the Durstein Castle is nearby, where Richard Lion-Heart was held captive. It is no wonder Princess Diana and Dodie Fayed loved to vacation here.

Shannon Skinner is an award-winning host and creator of ExtraordinaryWomenTV, radio host, author, international speaker and travel journalist. She lives to travel the world and taste fine wines and vegetarian culinary delights.

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