Although it is situated rather far north for a winegrowing region, the Kremstal offers favourable climatic conditions for viticulture. As in the surrounding regions, the hot Pannonian climate flowing from the east meets the cooler, continentally-influenced climate of the higher-elevation Waldviertel. The region warms up rapidly during the day, and in the evening the fragrant but cool forest air flows in again from the northern valleys & hollows, which can mean temperature swings of up to 25°C. The changes from hot days to cooler nights plays an essential role in the development of aromatic material, especially during the ripening period in autumn. The Danube River is of considerable significance in its influence on the climate – on the one hand it plays the cooling role of a thermostat, while on the other it also guards against frost, because the flow of the river creates constant air circulation.
Hard in the West
Of the two geologic features that dominate the Krems River Valley, primordial rock is encountered primarily in the west of the region, which is at the very edge of the Bohemian Massif. Soils of primordial rock (more precisely in their weathered state) are found in the vineyards on the border with the Wachau, and then reach up through the actual Krems River Valley to Senftenberg. Typical of these soils are the terraces bordered by stone walls on steep slopes, in which steely, finely spicy, mineral-driven white wines – especially Rieslings – grow, showing elegant depth of fruit & firm structure.
Soft in the East
The second significant soil formation in the Kremstal is loess. A curious sort of stone: in one respect so soft that one can crumble chunks of it to dust with the bare hand, but in another so robust that one can not only dig deep cellars into it, but also create steep walls and terraces many metres high from it. Vines benefit from its storage capacity for heat & water, as well as from its wealth in minerals. Towards the end of the Ice Ages, loess was blown in by the wind, which carried the dust from rapidly dried muddy areas into the Kremstal and deposited layers up to twenty-five metres high. The purest loess soils can be found in the east of Krems, from the Ried Wachtberg on the Kreuzberg to the Sandgrube to the Rohrendorfer Gebling and beyond.
Diversity All Around
The geology of the Kremstal cannot be compartmentalised quite so clearly, however. First, because there are natural transitions between primordial rock and loess, such as on Kreuzberg. And second, because some sections and vineyard sites of the Kremstal are characterised by a veritable blend of loess and primordial rock. Such conglomerate soils can be found on the southern banks of the Danube, but also on the northern bank, for example in the vineyards Gedersdorfer Wieland or Kremser Gebling. And third, because in addition to loess and primordial rock there are other soils. In the vicinity of river banks, layers of loess are sometimes covered with gravel deposits. For example, this is true of some sites on the right bank of the Danube around Palt & Oberfucha, but interestingly also in the middle of the transition from the – more or less heavy loess & clay soils – plateau of Stratzing & Gneixendorf toward the valley, in small sites such as Gärtling, Kiesling or Sunogel.