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Wachau becomes a DAC region

Published:  11 May, 2020

The Wachau has become an official DAC region after a long campaign to recognise its contributions to quality wine growing within the country.

A small region, just 1,300 ha, this wine-growing pocket of northern Austria is known for its Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings, grown on stony, often terraced vineyards rising up from the Danube.

It has now been given DAC status from Austria’s Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism making Wachau DAC the fifteenth of its kind in Austria.

“With the Wachau, we can now welcome another important member to Austria’s DAC family”, said Chris Yorke, MD of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB). “In doing this, Austria’s wine industry has taken a further step on the path of origin-based marketing. This has proven itself effective for seventeen years now, and has also become recognised internationally”.

Anton Bodenstein, chairman of the Wachau Regional Wine Committee, added: “This brings origins to the forefront. Wachau DAC provides geographical protection of origin down to the most detailed entity: the individual vineyard.”

The DAC system is a legal designation of origin recognised by Austrian law to outline “regionally typical Qualitätswein from Austria”.

Wachau DAC wines are classified on three levels (Gebietswein, Ortswein and Riedenwein) and carry certain specifications, including hand-harvesting across levels.

As well as operating across these three levels, AWMB said the Vinea Wachau’s categories Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd will remain in use.

These were established back in the 1980s by the regional protection association Vinea Wachau to set out three categories differentiated according to the natural alcohol content of the white wines, and also some rosé.

This “well-known and valuable classification will be retained within the new DAC system”, the AWMB said.

In the Gebietswein category, the traditional array of grape varieties will be preserved, ranging from Grüner Veltliner and Riesling to Muskateller and Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir and Sankt Laurent. Gemischter Satz and cuvées are also allowed.

The top level on the pyramid of origins is Riedenwein. The most famous Wachau grape varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are permitted here, harvested from 157 individually defined vineyard sites (Rieden). Wachau DAC wines bearing the indication of a Ried on the label must not be enriched or chaptalised in any way and – like Ortswein – must exhibit hardly any noticeable cask tone, or none at all.

Photo shows the stone terraces of the Danube, now also Wachau DAC. Credit Robert Herbst.