In the Thermen- & Vulkanland, the wine is volcanic in origin, with a character shaped by the heat and fire that once reigned here. The businesses might be small, but their products are considerable.
Those seeking an exciting dialogue between modern wellness and traditional wine culture will be well satisfied in the Thermen- & Vulkanland Steiermark. Humans have been the master architects here, shaping and cultivating the fertile vineyard slopes for centuries. The Thermen- & Vulkanland’s winegrowing region is called “Vulkanland Steiermark”, and the nectar that develops in its wooden barrels or steel tanks isn’t only beloved by local consumers. Its red and white wines have an international reach, even though the growing area boasts much smaller dimensions at a mere 1,644 hectares.
A huge variety of vines grows on these 1,644 hectares in Styria’s Vulkanland. Fans of Traminer should definitely set some time aside to visit Klöch. Straden and the area around it possess the optimum growing conditions for Grauburgunder, which is why this area has elected to cultivate Grauburgunder as its flagship variety.
Welschriesling tops the list of winegrowing areas by size, at 310 hectares. Weißburgunder vines come next, with 239 hectares, followed by white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc (108 hectares), Morillon (92 hectares), Gelber Muskateller and Riesling; the red variety Zweigelt takes third place in terms of growing area with around 77 hectares. The white grape varieties are marketed as Vulkanland Steiermark DAC, while the red varieties are sold with the “Steiermark” (Styria) designation of origin.
From north to south, the most important growing islands and hubs of local wine business are: the new “Ortswein” (village wine) areas of East Styria, Riegersburg, Bad Gleichenberg, Kapfenstein, St. Anna am Aigen, Straden, St. Peter, Tieschen and Klöch.
Wines from the winegrowing region of Vulkanland Steiermark are known for their outstanding quality – and it all has to do with the history of the earth. The growing area is characterised by ancient rock layers millions of years old, which were produced by active volcanoes some eight to ten million years ago. Today, the vine roots penetrate deep into the earth, searching for nutrients, where they are enriched by the mineral composition of the soil. Many vines grow on the deposits left by the Paratethys Ocean and the long-dried seas and rivers of the Styrian Basin, as well as on quarternary terrace gravels.
Volcanic rock occurs in the Vulkanland as tuff and basalt. Tuff is the material spewed explosively out of volcanoes millions of years ago, which then fell to earth as pyroclasts of different sizes and ash rain, hardening over time into a usually porous rock. Basalt, on the other hand, is cooled magma i.e. liquid rock from the bowels of the earth, which cooled after it was discharged and solidified into a hard and compact form, forming a new layer of rock and soil.
Another special factor is the climate. Compared to South Styria, vegetation growth is usually ahead by one week and doesn’t let up until harvest. Grapes here ripen earlier than anywhere else in Styria, and the resulting wines are elegant and glimmering with deep, age-old minerality. They offer a brilliant finesse and a stimulating sensation on the palate.
Holidaymakers in the Thermen- & Vulkanland particularly appreciate the natural approach to life that shapes the region, and the way it has remained true to its roots. Four Wine Roads snake through the romantic hilly landscapes; perfectly signposted themed hiking trails – such as the “Weinweg der Sinne” (“Wine Road of the Senses”) – round off the many options for exploring the region and uncorking its secrets.
Dotted all along these trails, small wine taverns (“Buschenschanken”) with friendly hosts invite you to rest for a short while or take a longer break. Guests are regaled with stories about the history of the local wine and other local delicacies, such as the unique Styrian pumpkin seed oil or Styrian scarlet runner beans.