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Winery #77: Domäne Wachau (Wachau DAC, Austria)

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Our second visit during the Austria-Hungary-Slovakia Expedition was to Domäne Wachau (pronounced Domain Vah-cow) located in Austria’s Wachau DAC wine region. The Wachau DAC is one of Austria's famous wine regions that produce Riesling and Grüner Veltliner wines. This is the first time we mentioned the Grüner Veltliner grape, Austria’s most planted varietal accounting for 32 percent of all plantings. The tasting marker, wine talk for a unique quality of the wine, of Grüner Veltliner is the white peppery aroma due to the chemical compound rotundone that is found in the grape’s skin. Nerdy, I know!



The tasting at Domäne Wachau took place in their large vinothek, or tasting room, that was appointed with several free-standing wine tasting stations to accommodate visitors. Our host for the tasting experience, Lisa, began with introducing us to estate's history and wine production methods. Lisa explained that Domäne Wachau is a cooperative of 250 families in Wachau that own vineyards and provide grapes to the winery to be made into wine. Cooperative has been a dirty word for some people, pointing towards a winery that produces high-volume, low-quality, low-priced wines. I can assure you that this is not the case with Domäne Wachau! Domäne Wachau is the first cooperative winery that we seen to highlight the grape-growing families on their website with each family background, fun facts about the owners such as their favorite wines, as well as the identifying the parcel of vineyard they own. We found this absolutely amazing that the winery places such great emphasis and admiration on the winegrower families.



Through our tasting experience, Lisa introduced a diverse sampling of 14 wines that embodied a portion of the winery’s full range. Our host used the maps on the free-standing tasting bar to show us where the grapes originate from, and leveraged the vineyard soil sample cross-sections on the wall to show us the types of soil of each vineyard location. It’s wonderful to actually see the Austrian loess soil, a soil that has richer nutrients and water retaining properties required by the Grüner Veltliner grape to thrive.


Our favorite wine from the line-up was the 2016 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Achleiten. If you’ve been following along with previous Austrian and German posts, you know what happens next: Let’s decompose the name! The Grüner Veltliner grapes were hand harvested in 2016 from Ried (vineyard) Achleiten. This vineyard traces its origins back to the 12th century when the first stone walls were erected to allow grapes to be grown on the side of the large hill. The soils here are not the rich loess soil that Grüner loves, but rather extremely shallow and nutrient deficient gneiss soil resulting in more concentrated flavors and aromas as well as reduced grape yields.


Smaragd is the top quality level of the classification developed by the Vinea Wachau, an association of producers in Wachau, designed to differentiate amongst the region's single-vineyard wines. Thanks to the brochure Lisa gave us, we learned that Smaragd is actually a green lizard that's the the trademark of this premium category of wine, a fun wine fact to share with your friends. Smaragd wines are world-class dry wines with extremely concentrated aromas and flavors of ripe fruit flavors, and a minimum of 12.5% alcohol. We found the wine to show intense aromas of ripe yellow apple and peach, as well as the Grüner Veltliner white pepper marker. Additionally, we detected notes of toast, charred wood, and a hint of vanilla that pointed towards oak maturation. Lisa explained that the wine spent five years in large old oak barrels before recently being bottled. What a wonderful wine!


We had a fantastic wine experience at Domäne Wachau thanks to Lisa and her team. We really appreciated the in-depth explanation of the wines and the great attention despite the busy tasting room. We rank our experience at Domäne Wachau in the TOP 25% of the last 91 winery visits over the last year. THANK YOU SO MUCH for such a wonderful experience! If you are traveling in Austria, we highly recommend making the detour to visit Domäne Wachau!!


Check out the YouTube video of our visit to Domäne Wachau here!!


Experience Rating: 4 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 2 Paws Up


Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Standing Bar Tasting

Reservations Needed: Not needed for tasting in the Vinothek, but required for the weekly Saturday Cellar Tour & Wine Tasting

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