"A vineyard for one thousand five hundred years"
The history of the Wachau is naturally intertwined with much of the history of the vineyard. The name "Wachau" dates back to the description of an estate that belonged to a Bavarian monastery called Niederalteich in the Spitz area and was first mentioned in a Carolingian document from the year 830. At that time, the vineyard was already established in the Danube Valley downstream from Melk: The biography of St Severin, put together by his pupil, Eugippius, in the year 511 recounts that the saint withdrew to a remote hermitage called "In the vineyards". Severin lived around 470 close to the Roman settlement of Castells Favianis, the modern Mautern.
In 791, Charlemagne made camp with his army in the Wachau on the way to his decisive and successful battle against the Avars. The newly-acquired land east of the Enns became a royal estate. Carolingian settlement of the land could begin. When the Bavarian troops were wiped out by the Hungarians at the Battle of Pressburg in 907, the land below the Enns fell to the Magyars, who ruled it for several decades. The victory of Otto I at the Battle of Lechfeld on St Lawrence's Day 955 saw the advent of a political counter-movement, which became the basis of the area's continuing development: The old possessory titles from the Carolingian period were revived. In 962 Otto I was crowned First Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation. In 976 the first Babenberger was enfeoffed with the Grenzmark (border region) in the east. In 1156 the Grenzmark became the Duchy of Austria. In 1285 Leuthold I von Kuenring became "oberster Schenk in Österreich" (Chief Sommelier in Austria).
"Those who take a seat under the ancient apple trees or sit in the solid, rural comfort of the dining room, choosing this or that from the extensive menu, come just a little closer to the Wachau in their hearts."
Review from GAULT MILLAU Austria 2011
Wachau World Heritage Site
What do the pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India, the Schönbrunn Palace, Ghega's Semmering Railway and the Wachau have in common? They all belong to an exclusive "club" of which the newest member is the Wachau: The landscape around the world-famous River Danube has been declared a World heritage Site.
According to the "World heritage Convention" held in 1972 by the General Conference of the UN cultural organisation Unesco, the term "cultural heritage" is applied to architectural works, large sculptures, monumental paintings, found or archaeological objects, groups of individual or linked buildings, human constructions or objects which are both works of nature and human constructions, as long as they are of outstanding universal value for historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological reasons.
So Lower Austria now has a second World Heritage Site in addition to the "Ghega–Bahn" (named after its architect Karl Ritter von Ghega) which runs from Glognitz to Semmering. Both are now entitled to special care and attention. The Wachau, a landscape which has also been singled out for protection by the Council of Europe, has become a central area in Europe as the banks of the Danube have been settled for thousands of years. Over the centuries the Danube has been not only a transport route for crusaders and bands of pilgrims, but also an important trading route between east and west.
Today the Wachau is the high spot of a a holiday trip along the Danube, either by bike along the famous Danube Cycle Route, by boat or by car. The Wachau landscape with its cultural and culinary highlights is a rewarding holiday destination at any time of year.
The climate in the Wachau
The Wachau comes under the influence of various climate zones: Western Atlantic air masses meet warm continental patterns flowing in from the Panonian Plain in the east. Their continental characteristics (hot, dry summers - harsh winters) are moderated by the temperature-regulating effect of the Danube. The large water surface also reflects the sun's rays and encourages the formation of sugar in the grapes by photosynthesis. Microclimatic factors such as cool downslope winds and the aromatic forest air from the north reinforce the swings in temperature between day and night in the weeks prior to harvest (September/October) and promote the formation of aroma. The "cool" fruit and the exotic quality of Wachau wines are the result of this special climatic mix. The annual level of precipitation in the Wachau, which is less than 500 mm, falls mostly in the context of thunderstorms in the summer months and is therefore not easily absorbed by the soil. This makes irrigation a necessity in the dry, mountainous areas.
The history of Loiben
Loiben is made up of two villages; Unter and Ober Loiben. The most architecturally interesting parish church in Unterloiben, which is dedicated to St. Quirin, is a combination of two Gothic single-nave buildings. The high altar is by Martin Johann Schmidt.
On the Plain of Loiben on 11. 11. 1805, the Austrian and Russian troops besieged the Napoleonic army as it advanced towards Vienna. An enormous monument was erected as a memorial to this battle; the French War memorial.