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The Vulkanland Steiermark is a region of pleasure in the shadow of extinct volcanic cones. Wine characterises the area, but there is much more to discover: from premium chocolate to rum. Alexander Lupersböck has known the region and its producers for decades. Here he reveals his tips.

The Vulkanland Steiermark owes its name to the geology of the south of the region. This is shaped by extinct volcanoes - a uniqueness in Austria's wine-growing regions. The wine-growing villages are scattered around the area like islands - often on hills overlooking the land. But it is not only the wine that attracts visitors. In the Styrian Volcano Land there is an abundance of delicacies and pleasurable experiences that is second to none.

Wine experiences

For a long time, the Vulkanland was considered the cosier brother of Southern Styria. But with the change of the area's name from the indifferent geographical designation "Südoststeiermark" to "Vulkanland", the uniqueness of this region was emphasised. This has been good for the self-confidence of the winegrowers and has released a lot of dynamism. Wines from volcanic soils have long been in demand worldwide. And rightly so: in the Styrian Volcanic Land, the minerality of the basaltic soils combines with the mild climate and cool nights to create a special spiciness in the wines. The "Eruption Winegrowers" association passionately emphasises the area's peculiarities. For example, at one of the members, the Genussgut Krispel , the wines are complemented with the restaurant Genusstheater, the "Kostbar" and the products from their own wool pig breeding.

Not far away in Straden are two protagonists of Styrian wine, the Neumeister winery with the Saziani-Stuben restaurant and the Schlafgut Saziani, and the Frauwallner winery .

Heading west in St. Peter am Ottersbach, "Echtwein" by Ploder-Rosenberg offers highly exciting insights into the world of Piwi varieties, biodynamic cultivation and non-invasive winemaking.

Gottfried Lamprecht from Herrenhof Lamprecht has dedicated himself to finding and vinifying ancient Styrian grape varieties with his white and red Gemischter Sätzen from Buchertberg. He also cultivates the traditional variety Furmint again. Nearby, Karl "Koarl" Thaller's wine castle provides a "stage for art, culture and wine" as a venue for celebrations, events and culinary delights.

OeWM Anna Stoecher

No visit to Vulkanland is complete without a detour to Kapfenstein Castle. The castle hotel with its fine restaurant and the winery of the Winkler-Hermaden family is an institution. The "Olivin" has been considered one of the best red wines in the country for decades and has set standards for Zweigelt.

Lovers of the Traminer grape variety are recommended to visit the village of Klöch. There is one of the strongholds of the variety, which is once again appealing to a wider audience in modern interpretations.

Click here for a list of recommended wineries in the region.

Worlds of enjoyment

At Vulkanland Steiermark there are plenty of other delicacies to discover besides wine. Vulcano ham should not be missing from any snack in the Vulkanland, and a visit to the production site in Auersbach offers insights and opportunities for tasting.

At Haberl & Finks you can not only dine excellently with the former head chef of the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, but also buy preserved and pickled, as well as fermented delicacies in jars, which are lovingly created by hand.

The "Black Gold of Styria" is also produced in Vulkanland: Pumpkin seed oil is a staple food here - and is available in many places in the finest quality.

For dessert, we recommend two visits: In the Fromagerie zu Riegersburg you can visit Austria's first cheese maturing and cheese art workshop. A few metres further on is the paradise of all those with a sweet tooth: the Zotter Chocolate Theatre. Josef Zotter is famous for his chocolates in flavours that were previously unthinkable. His chocolates are "bean to bar", he knows all his suppliers and almost every cocoa tree personally. In the chocolate theatre, visitors can make their own chocolate and taste it without restriction.

Graeme Kennedy Zotter Chocolate

Those who have overdone it may be happy about a digestif. It's a good thing that many businesses have dedicated themselves to refining the abundant fruit on offer. A good example is the glass factory of Alois Gölles, whose brandies and vinegars are known far beyond Austria's borders. The orchard cinema, sensory tunnel and many tasting offers make the visit an extraordinary experience. Son David also offers exotic spirits at Ruotkers - House of Whisky, Gin and Rum.

Places of interest and accommodation

The Vulkanland Steiermark offers numerous sights and places to visit. In the spectacularly located Gesamtsteirische Vinothek in St. Anna am Aigen, many of the 220 wines on offer can be tasted - guided tastings are also available by appointment.

A must-visit is the Riegersburg Castle with its witch museum, which dominates the landscape for miles around. It was never conquered during the long-lasting border wars, but today it can be hiked or reached more easily by an inclined lift.

Riegersburg Castle

Relaxation after so many experiences is offered by the hotels around the thermal baths in Bad Waltersdorf and Bad Gleichenberg. Those who prefer to stay in the heart of the world of pleasure around Riegersburg should consider the Genusshotel Riegersburg. Cosy rooms in wineries and all categories of accommodation are available throughout the Vulkanland. But beware: a weekend is certainly far too short to discover Vulkanland Steiermark!

© Cover photo: OEWM WSNA

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