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The Kamptal takes its name from the river that crosses the area. Here, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner play the main wine roles. The town of Langenlois and the top vineyard Heiligenstein are just two highlights in this charming landscape. Werner Rüttgers introduces them.

The wine-growing region of Kamptal is located about 60 kilometres northwest of Vienna in the province of Lower Austria. It owes its name to the small river Kamp, which rises in the Waldviertel region to the northwest of the area. Over a distance of a good 150 kilometres, the Kamp initially flows from west to east, but from Rosenburg onwards - with bends and loops - it flows from north to south through the Kamptal towards the Danube. The mouth of the river is near the village of Grafenwörth.

The wine-growing region, which lies at an altitude of 200 to 300 metres, covers around 3,500 hectares of vineyards, the landscape is hilly in the north and becomes flat towards the Danube. The climate is shaped by two influences: the hot, Pannonian one from the east and the cool, continental one from the north. Thus, the vines benefit from high daytime and low night-time temperatures, which makes for particularly aromatic and at the same time balanced, finesse-rich wines. The autumns are long and sunny, so that the grapes can ripen perfectly.

The soil structure in the Kamptal is diverse, and so there is - in interaction with the varying altitude and orientation of the vineyards - a great wealth of terroirs and correspondingly characterful, independent growths. In the highlands, the soils are predominantly brown earth on a base of granite and gneiss. In the lowlands, loess predominates on the one hand: Fly ash that was blown here during the ice age and compacted into fertile soils. On the other hand, there are formations of gravel, crystalline rock, sandstone, shale and conglomerates; on the banks of the Kamp itself, clay soils dominate.


Unique wines from the Heiligenstein

View to the north into the Kamptal, on the right the terraces of the iconic Heiligenstein


The most important wine-growing villages in the Kamptal are the town of Langenlois with its associated communities of Gobelsburg, Haindorf, Schiltern, Zöbing and Straß im Straßertale, as well as numerous smaller villages such as Etsdorf, Hadersdorf, Kammern, Lengenfeld and Schönberg. The most important vineyard in the area is the Heiligenstein. This 360-metre-high ridge has a unique soil composition of Permian desert sandstone with volcanic elements, which makes the wines from here unmistakable. Its name does not derive from an ecclesiastical designation, but comes from the word "Hellenstein" (= hell stone). This is a reference to the high temperatures that prevail there when the sun shines.

The southern slope of the Heiligenstein is so steep that no permanent loess layer could be blown on. The steep terraces here are mainly planted with Riesling, which produces wines that are as powerful as they are elegant, mineral and very long-lived. On the broad loess and clay terraces at the lower reaches of the Kamps, the main grape variety is Grüner Veltliner, which varies in the glass from classically fresh and fruity to powerful, deep and delicately spicy. In addition to these two leading grape varieties, white and red Pinot varieties as well as Zweigelt also play a role in the Kamptal.

Three-tier quality system

The protected designation of origin "Kamptal DAC" is reserved for Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, all other grape varieties bear the generic indication of origin "Niederösterreich" on the label. DAC stands for "Districtus Austriae Controllatus" and means that wines with this status must meet particularly strict quality regulations. These range from the harvest quantity to the analysis values to the taste profile.

The Kamptal DAC designation of origin has existed since the 2008 vintage and is divided into three levels (in ascending order):

  • Regional wine with the designation "Kamptal DAC".
  • Local wine with the designation "Kamptal DAC" and a place name (e.g. Langenlois)
  • Riedenwein (single vineyard) with the designation "Kamptal DAC" as well as a place and a location (e.g. Zöbinger Heiligenstein).

There are a total of 150 vineyard sites (Rieden) in the Kamptal. The best known - apart from Heiligenstein - are Käferberg, Loiserberg, Schenkenbichl, Steinhaus or Steinmassl. All Kamptal DAC wines must be dry. Regional wines have at least 11.5 percent alcohol by volume, local wines at least 12 percent by volume and single vineyard wines at least 12.5 percent by volume. An additional category are the wines with the designation "Reserve", which have at least 13 percent alcohol by volume and must have matured in the cellar for longer. The generic designation of origin "Niederösterreich" also applies to Rieslings or Grüner Veltliners that do not meet the DAC requirements.

Great wine tourism offer

The Loisium is an important contact point for wine tourists

ÖWM Anna Stoecher

Kamptaler wines offer a wide variety of culinary applications. From fried or grilled fish and seafood, the potential ranges to roasted poultry or baked (which in Austria means cooked while swimming in fat). Modern, Mediterranean or exotic dishes as well as creations of high cuisine can also be combined with the characterful Rieden and Reserve wines in an interesting and enjoyable way.

Those who want to visit the Kamptal will find a wide range of wine-tourism offers. Langenlois, the "wine capital" of the area, is home to the "Loisium" wine museum. The futuristic visitor centre is an architectural eye-catcher and houses, among other things, a vinotheque with regional wines; underground, in centuries-old corridors, a mystically staged wine experience with light and sound awaits visitors. In Straß im Straßertale, the Fassbinder Museum invites you to experience traditional crafts, there are art exhibitions, castles, parks and leisure activities throughout the area, and from the Kamptalwarte on Heiligenstein you have the most beautiful overview of the region's wine landscape. The area vinotheque and the tourism office of the Kamptal are located in the Ursin House on the main square in Langenlois.

The wine-growing region is also an attractive holiday destination for nature and sports enthusiasts: walks through the tranquil wine-growing villages, through the impressive sunken paths and cellar alleys, hikes or bike tours through the vineyards and forests or along the Kamp, as well as canoeing and paddling on the river - there is much to see and discover!

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