Austria: Southern Styria-The Green State

Text: Daniel Neuhauser • Photography: Daniel Neuhauser

In the middle of the fall, around the end of October, the choice of passable roads narrows in Austria. On streets at high altitude you naturally expect snow at this time of the year. And further down the slopes many of the available touring areas that are closer by may be growing a little old. The asphalt turns cold, too, and tires lose their grip, leaning for good angles. So, for enjoying the fall landscape, our best choices this time of the year are tours through Austria's southern regions.

One of the best areas for such fall tours is the southern part of Styria with its famous South Styrian Wine Streets. Lest you think that drinking and driving is legal in Austria, the wine-street designation stems from the fact that the grapes in the region usually grow on small steep hills, and the farmers need avenues to access their fields. And, as such, a large selection of windy little roads await. No long accelerations, only short uphill sections of one or two miles (some are longer) and most are paved but narrow. A KTM Duke fills the bill for fun when scooting here.

The climate remains benign through most of the year and the landscape is quite lovely, especially when the grape leaves turn colours and the morning mist creeps over the tiny valleys. Some visitors call it the Austrian Tuscany. But only the landscape is similar - the wine, food, the people and culture are unique.

About the wine. Everything revolves around it here. Compared to the other wine regions around Vienna and along the Danube, south Styrian wines were not so famous only a few years ago. But then a new generation of vintners matured and realized advances in marketing and quality were needed if the local vintages were to stay competitive. They started working together on improving promotion and incorporated new techniques while maintaining the old traditions. With better methods of cultivation used, new grapes were planted and the results have restored the quality that some experts say was lost in previous years.

(End of preview text.)

For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2003 back issue.