Where the wine grapes grow: the best-known villages & vineyards of the Kremstal
The vineyards of the winegrowing region Kremstal are distributed on both sides of the Danube, reach into the actual Krems River Valley as far as Senftenberg and extend out onto ridges & plateaus. The historic centre of the winegrowing region is the city of Krems, which is located in the far west of the Kremstal. From here we’ll organise our excursion to the most famous winegrowing villages & vineyards of the region.
West of Krems
The Pfaffenberg is located in the western part of the city of Krems (more precisely in Krems-Stein). This borders the Wachau, then reaches from Stein to Krems and includes a number of the most famous vineyards of the old wine town, such as Goldberg, Danzern, Grillenparz, Schreck & Hund. Most vineyards are planted on primordial rock, in places covered with a layer of loess, laid out in terraces on steeply sloped hillsides facing the Danube. Riesling grows here on excellent mineral-rich sites, but the greater area is planted to Grüner Veltliner. The second prominence of Krems, the Kreuzberg, begins the transition that dominates the area east of Krems all the way into the Wagram: the change from weathered primordial rock to loess. The Kögl in the west, with its heavily weathered slate, is predestined for graceful & expressive Rieslings, while the Wachtberg with its loess soils, only a few metres distant, has in turn developed into a source of aromatic, expressive Veltliner.
North of Krems
Behind the Pfaffenberg, facing the Waldviertel, lies the Sommerleithen, whose vineyards slope towards the south. It encompasses the majority of the vineyards of Egelsee and extends to Rehberg. Further to the west we first come across Ried Kremsleiten, whose imposing terraces of primordial rock and sandy topsoils face south and southwest. There is no question that King Riesling is number one here. From there we proceed northward toward the high plateau and thus to the well-known clay-soil sites between Imbach & Senftenberg: the vineyards Pfenningberg, Pellinger, Hochäcker, Rammeln and the picturesque Ehrenfels, directly below the ruins at Senftenberg. What they all have in common is the crystalline subsoil and, thanks to the particularly dramatic differences between day & nighttime temperatures, a distinctively delicate and cool, racy flavour profile – from which Veltliner & Riesling benefit in equal measure.
On the plateau to the east are the vineyards Kiesling and Gärtling, halfway between Imbach & Stratzing, a winegrowing town northeast of Krems. A little further to the northwest, above Senftenberg, come the wine villages Priel and then Dross, at the edge of the Gföhler Forest, which demarcates the border of the winegrowing region toward the Waldviertel & the Kamptal.
East of Krems
The eastern end of the Krems River Valley is characterised by loess soils, where the bluffs reach a remarkable thickness & depth, especially in the communities of Rohrendorf & Gedersdorf. Before that, one should explore the partly gravelly, partly loamy soils of the vineyards Sandgrube, Frechau, Marthal & Kremser Gebling in the suburbs of Krems. In the case of the well-known Sandgrube, a distinction must be made between the historic single vineyard site – only twenty-five-hectares – and the 350-hectare Grosslage (consolidated vineyard site).
East of the city of Krems, Rohrendorf borders the city’s vineyards. The soils of the sites in Rohrendorf are mostly conglomerates with loess layers of differing thickness, with some pure loess drift soils. The best vineyard sites are Rohrendorfer Gebling, Breiter Rain, Steinwandl, Paschingerin, Wolfsgraben & Schnabel.
The vineyards of Gedersdorf & Brunn im Felde, with their massive loess terraces, border on Rohrendorf in the east. The great specialty in Gedersdorf is Grüner Veltliner, which is cultivated here with notable success. Well-known vineyards: Geppling, Tiefenthal, Weitgasse, Moosburgerin, Zehetnerin, Wieland, Steindl, Spiegel & Reisenthal.
South of Krems
To reach the villages & vineyards south of Krems, one must cross the Danube over to the right bank. Flur Herrentrost (forty-six hectares) in Thallern and Brunnkirchen includes the vineyard sites Steinhagen, Brunnfeld, Herrentrost & Satzen. Weissburgunder & Grüner Veltliner grow on the gravel and loess soils. Further to the west lies the expanse of Flur Frauengrund (68 ha) in Angern & Thallern on pure loess, which mostly yields full-bodied Grüner Veltliner. Its individual vineyard sites are Maring, Schwerer Zapfen and Frauengrund. The Kremser Kogl (117 ha) near Hollenburg consists of conglomerate soil with loess layers of variable depth, where expressive Grüner Veltliner with good cellaring potential is harvested. Important vineyards: In Schrötten, Point, Hahn, Hollenburgern, In Schiefern, Neubergern, Langen-Hadinger, Kleedorf, Kogl, Lusthausberg, Wolfsberg, Holzäcker & Brunngraben.
Around the magnificent baroque Benedictine abbey Stift Göttweig there are numerous wine villages such as Furth, Palt and the somewhat hidden-away towns & hamlets Paudorf. Steinaweg, Meidling, Eggendorf, Höbenbach, Krustetten, Oberfucha & Tiefenfucha. The best-known vineyards are Gottschelle & Oberfeld; other good sites are Obere Zistel & Untere Zistel, Höhlgraben & Steinbühel.
In the Kremstal, white wine varieties dominate, especially Grüner Veltliner & Riesling. The most prominent red wine is vinified from Zweigelt.
Although the Kremstal is home to many excellent wines from various Qualitätswein varieties, Grüner Veltliner & Riesling are undeniably the most important among them. They form the backbone of the portfolio for every successful winegrowing operation in the region and provide the substance behind the Kremstal’s excellent reputation, which is why the region’s protected designation of origin is limited to these two leading varieties. But the Kremstal does not turn away from diversity: Pinot family varieties Weissburgunder & Chardonnay thrive particularly well on calcareous soils in the Kremstal, while Sauvignon Blanc is expanding its surface area; ideal terroirs for rarities such as Traminer and Roter Veltliner can be found, especially in the far east of the winegrowing region.
The top red wine here is clearly the Zweigelt. Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot have caught up a bit in recent years; the red Pinot-family varieties are also represented in the Kremstal with Pinot Noir & Sankt Laurent.
Grape varieties in numbers:
The winegrowing region Kremstal area now has an area under vines of 2,368 hectares, which represents some 5.2% of the Austrian viticultural landscape. 82% is planted with white grapes, 18% with red grapes. A look at the varieties in detail shows an area share of 55% for Grüner Veltliner (1303 ha), followed by Zweigelt with 13% (304 ha); in third place comes Riesling with 10.5% (249 ha). Source: Vineyard Baseline Survey 2015 (as of September 2016), Austrian Wine Marketing Board.