Wines of the Danube Table
Joseph Boulous takes to the magnificent Danube River to visit some of Europe’s most important wine regions.
Whenever the phrase “fine European wine” is cited, familiar scenes of France’s Champagne region or Italy’s Chianti Road often spring to mind. However, Europe’s waterways have also played a significant role in shaping the landscape of centuries-old viticulture methods. At its heart lies the mighty Danube.
The longest river in the European Union and the second-longest in Europe (behind Russia’s Volga), the Danube flows from Germany through nine countries before emptying into the Black Sea. Wine-lovers and wine-newbies are destined to enjoy a tipple or two while exploring this majestic river and the Danube's Wachau Valley, which winds through Austria.
These historic Austrian wine-growing regions came into being over millions of years. The Danube carved a winding path through solid gneisses and amphibolites, where the soils from the terrace’s crystalline rocks provide outstanding sites for growing Riesling.
However, it’s not only wine that this marvellous region has to offer. The restored Melk Abbey beams proudly over the Danube Valley, and is one of Europe's iconic sights. Established as a fortified Benedictine abbey in the 11th century, it was destroyed by fire. What is now on show is an 18th-century Baroque. The abbey’s grand restoration project was completed in 1996 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the first reference to a country named Osterreich (Austria).
For 900 years, monks of St. Benedict have lived and worked in Melk’s abbey; during the Reformation in the 1500s, when the abbey was a significant battle station under Napoleonic occupation in the 1800s, and when it was seized by the Nazis in the 1900s. Today, the institution survives, funded largely by tourism and agriculture.
Discover the Danube, its views and varietals, on our 9 Day Delightful Danube river cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest. Step back in time in Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau and Durnstein. Sip regional wines as you cruise through the Wachau Valley and explore Budapest's elegant and historic sites.