AT A GLANCE:
THE BEST VINEYARD IN EUROPE
Name of wine estate: Domäne Wachau
Wine region: Wachau
Standout points: UNESCO-recognised cliffside vineyards; a Baroque pleasure palace
Winemakers: Heinz Frischengruber
Wine style: Site-specific Riesling and Grüner Veltliner
There are wine co-ops and then there are wine co-ops. With its maze of 300-year-old cellars, its Baroque castle and its pick of every prime vineyard site in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wachau, Domäne Wachau tops the lot. For the past 15 years, under the expert stewardship of managing director Roman Horvath MW and winemaker Heinz Frischengruber, this historic winery has established itself as a must-visit, quality-orientated wine destination – and so, wine enthusiasts, if you’re planning a visit to the Danube region, be sure to set your GPS to the village of Dürnstein.
Originally run by the monastery of Dürnstein, Domäne Wachau these days produces as much as one-third of the wines of the entire Wachau region – including expressions from every single-vineyard site. Its talent is that it is able to sustain such high quality despite high volumes: with its balance of respect for local terroir and tradition, and unrivalled technical know-how, Domäne Wachau offers stunning Riesling and Grüner Veltliner wines at every quality level.
Rieslings (and Grüners) to be cheerful
Happily the winery is open to visitors all year round. A typical tour of the winery takes about 1.5 hours, starting in the wine shop before exploring the winery and visiting the Baroque cellar and underground wine cellars. The tour culminates with a wine tasting that aims to provide something for everyone’s taste (though lovers of Riesling and Grüner are particularly in luck). For those with the legs for it, hikes among the cliff-edge vineyards can also be arranged. Be sure to request a visit to the extraordinary Canary yellow Kellerschlössel, a Baroque pleasure palace built for Hieronymus Übelbacher, abbot of Dürnstein – a holy man with an apparently unholy love of Danube wines: certainly, this place looks more like a den of hedonism than a seat of piety to religious devotion!