Styria, Austria’s southernmost wine region, lies in the lush countryside between Vienna and the Slovenian border. Known as Austria’s “green heart,” it’s famous for light yet intensely aromatic white wines. Sauvignon Blanc is the star here, but it’s the beautiful landscape that will capture your heart. You may have never heard of the Steiermark, as the Austrians call it, but that’s because the well-heeled Viennese who come here to relax like it that way. You’ll be well looked after amid its wealth of outdoor sports, indoor spas, wineries, hotels and restaurants. —Anne Krebiehl, MW
Where To Dine
You have to experience a traditional buschenschank: winery-run taverns with simple, local and hearty food served alongside the estate’s wine. One of the best is Weingut Tamara Kögl in Ratsch. Gourmets won’t be disappointed at Die Weinbank, where Chef Gerhard Fuchs focuses on seasonal, local dishes executed to the highest standards. He also runs a more down-to-earth Wirtshaus with simpler fare. Kogel3 offers traditional dishes coupled with spectacular views.
Where To Stay
The luxurious, art-themed Schlossberghotel in Graz, Styria’s capital, will shake off any jetlag. Don’t forget to enjoy its multilevel roof terrace before you head into the country. Loisium Wine & Spa Resort in Ehrenhausen combines wine, pampering and modern architecture for an otherworldly experience of ultimate relaxation. The real countryside beckons at Weingartenhotel Harkamp, where the surrounding vineyard is an ideal spot to relax with a bottle of Harkamp’s own fine sparkling wine.
Styria’s other specialty is pumpkin seed oil, which is featured heavily in local dishes. Watch it being milled and sample it at Ölmühle Hartlieb. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven at Zotter Experience, with its astonishing, innovative varieties. You can burn off the calories biking, golfing or hiking.
Head to the Genussregal in Vogau, which translates as “pleasure shelf.” It showcases local food and drink, ideal to fill a picnic basket and grab a bottle before you hit the vineyards.
Where to Taste
At the Erwin Sabathi Estate, you’ll find some of Styria’s finest Sauvignon Blanc. Taste a range of single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and dreamy Muskateller at LacknerTinnacher. A scenic drive along the wine route that starts out in Ehrenhausen, Leutschach or Gamlitz will take you past countless estates and through beautiful vineyards. Grab a map at the tourist office in Leutschach or at your hotel. In Vulkanland, Steiermark, be dazzled by the countless green bottles that form part of the tasting room at Neumeister. Even better, drink the wines while you dine at its Saziani Stub’n restaurant. Head to the southwestern part of the region and try racy pink Schilcher, both still and sparkling, at Weingut Jöbstl. Beer lovers, too, can rejoice: Styria is Austria’s chief hop-growing region. Local brews can be sampled with snacks like pretzels and sausages at Die Brauerei in Leutschach.
When To Go
Spring and fall are best. Both seasons offer stunning landscapes and mild temperatures.
Aromatic whites reach a kind of zenith in this climate. Sauvignon Blanc is the star here. It comes both as fragrant and zippy young wines—look for “Steirer Klassik” on the label—and as gently oak-matured, ageworthy selections that can be a revelation. Try some of the single-vineyard wines from sites like Gamlitzberg, Grassnitzberg, Edelschuh or Zieregg. The local hero is equally aromatic Gelber Muskateller, full-flavored and dry, yet ultralight, with fresh floral and grape aromas. Styria is also famous for Schilcher, a lip-smacking, tart rosé. Chardonnay is produced throughout the region as well, though it’s known as Morillon.
Local in the Know
Gerhard Josef Wohlmuth, cellarmaster of Weingut Wohlmuth, suggests starting a weekend off with a gourmet brunch in the 14th-century rectory Tom am Kochen before walking it off on a mountainous hike through the vineyards. “If you’re there in fall, forage for edible chestnuts to roast,” says Wohlmuth. He adds that the perfect day finishes with organic fare and intriguing wine at Buschenschank Warga-Hack, also in Kitzeck. For Graz, he recommends Bar Albert.