Six of the best: Austrian wine experiences

DOMANE WACHAU

The Danube Valley is one of Austria's prettiest corners and dense in castles and medieval villages. Domane Wachau, run by a local wine co-operative, is just outside lovely Durnstein. A visit to its wine shop and underground cellars provides an overview of excellent, contemporary Austrian wines. In the vineyards above, elegant baroque mini-mansion Kellerschlossel is a scenic spot for tasting local varieties such as gruner veltliner and blauer zweigelt. Further down river, Winzer Krems brings together nearly 1000 small-scale Wachau producers; its Wine Experience (sandgrube13.at) takes visitors on an eight-stop trail from vineyards to cellars through brilliant multimedia presentations. See domaene-wachau.at

SOUTHERN STYRIAN WINE ROAD

This meandering wine route between Ehrenhausen and Strass in the country's far south passes through an "Austrian Tuscany" of rolling hills pegged with vines and studded with poplar trees and orchards. It runs for about 70 kilometres, passing dozens of cellar doors and wine taverns along the way: some traditional, others ultra chic. Tempt the tastebuds with aromatic sauvignon blanc and gelber muskateller (yellow muscatel) varieties. At Ratsch, a chapel is dedicated to St Urban, patron saint of winegrowers, and at Glanz the Glanzer Weintour hiking trail gives you a 10.5-kilometre leg stretch. See suedsteirischeweinstrasse.at

WINE-THEMED RIVER CRUISE

If you want to take to the river rather than the road, then APT's 2017 Magnificent Europe Wine Series cruises are accompanied by an Australian wine expert who leads excursions to wineries, oversees tastings and explains traditional winemaking. The 15-day Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary passes through notable Austrian wine regions. Passengers can enjoy a wine and brandy tasting in Durnstein and visit 400-year-old wine tavern Christ Heurigen outside Vienna for a taste of gemischter satz, the blended white wine associated with Vienna, which lays claim to being the only capital with significant wine production within its city limits. See aptouring.com.au/wineseries

LOISIUM

The cellars at Langenlois, a region famous for sekt an hour's drive from Vienna, date back 900 years, but there's nothing traditional about a cellar-door visit here. A glorious ultra-modern building sits in burnished steel among the vineyards and is the ultimate expression of Austria's innovative approach to both wine and cellar-door visits. Descend underground for amazing multimedia shows, dancing fountains and a recreated 1924 farmhouse. Sound-and-light displays are set in motion via touchscreens – even a canary starts singing in the farmhouse kitchen. The visit ends with bubbles of sparking wine projected on a giant screen. See loisium.com

RUST

This pretty, historic winemaking town sits in the Hungarian-border wine region of Burgenland. Try local grape variety furmint or the stunning ruster ausbruch, a botrytis dessert wine. Many producers' houses have giant doors on Rust's main street that lead into tastings rooms in sunny courtyards behind. Rustic Weinbau Wenzel (michaelwenzel.at) is one; Michael Wenzel has worked in New Zealand and Margaret River. Then head to Hopler Wine Room (hoepler.at) 20 kilometres north, which takes you on a high-tech, multimedia journey through winemaking. Its affable winemaker Christof Hopler has worked in California and Australia. See rust.at

VIENNA'S WINE TAVERNS

Wine has been cultivated within Vienna's limits since Roman times, and in the 18th century Emperor Joseph II granted winegrowers the right to sell wine and simple food. The result was a flourishing of still-popular heurigen, or taverns, serving mostly white wines and hearty Austrian food amidst the vineyards, some with views towards Vienna's cathedral spire. Shared trestle tables can be convivial, and traditional music is sometimes played. Try venerable Mayer am Pfarrplatz (pfarrplatz.at), which was once frequented by Beethoven and is a classic heurige where dirndl-clad waitresses dish up great schnitzels on a vine-shaded terrace. See wien.info

Brian Johnston travelled courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office and Emirates Airlines.

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