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Hiking among the vineyards in Southern Styria

© by Arnold Weisz

An amazingly beautiful landscape dressed in autumn colors, good wines, and delicious food accompanied us on a hike in the wine region in Südsteiermark, on the border between Austria and Slovenia.

Hiking in wine regions has become popular in Austria. Lots of people enjoy the rolling hills and soft landscape as a contrast to the fantastic opportunities for alpine hiking in the Alps. We, therefore, ventured out on a 5.8 km (3.6 mi) long hike in southern Styria, through vineyards, forest groves, and open farm landscapes. Nature put up its most beautiful and colorful spectacle, the wines were good and the food delicious. Moreover, when the thermometer hit a lovely 22 °C (72 °F) in mid-October, a wine hike in Southern Styria (Südsteiermark) turned out to be a splendid experience.

Easy navigation

With the help of outdooractive.com’s hiking app, we easily found the starting point and headed straight out among the vines. The route was mostly laid out along the tractor roads used by the farmers. Well signposted with “Kulinarische Weinberg-wanderung” (Culinary vineyard hike), we were led from vineyard to vineyard, where you could get a glass of wine or two, as well as something delicious to eat. Furthermore, with the help of the app, we always knew where we were and what was the next stop. This is important, as culinary wine hiking is as much about food and wine, as the hike itself. Surely there is no better way to enjoy a wonderful day outdoors while tasting the region’s specialties.

< Click on the images to enlarge >

DAC Südsteiermark

Southern Styria is synonymous with fresh, aromatic white wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc. The warm and humid Mediterranean climate encourages a prolonged vegetation cycle for the vines. The cool nights develop fine-tuned aromatic profiles, giving the white wine a wealth of nuances and a fruity scent. Weingut Hotel Restaurant Mahoko has set up a small “tasting station” about halfway on the hiking route, where you can taste the products that you can buy at the winery. The vineyards in the region are among Europe’s finest, with their charming and diverse nature. Moreover, the region also has some of the most challenging terrains for growing grapes, because most of the vineyards are planted on extremely steep hillsides.

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Lovely hiking trails

The steep terrain combined with the cultural landscape has made this region a popular hiking destination. The hike we went on is not long but takes you up and down the hillsides. The highest point of this hike is the Weingut Hotel Restaurant Mahoko at 507 meters (1663 ft) above sea level. And the lowest point is Gamser Kapelle at 331 meters (1085 ft) above sea level. Along the way, the grapevines dominate, but you also stroll through woods, on open pastures, and a bit of asphalt. You can choose from 11 places along the route to take a break and enjoy something to drink or eat.

Buschenschank

We stopped at Weingut Zirngast, where we enjoyed a large slice of bread that was completely covered with different types of meats, cheese, and vegetables. Typical food you get at a so-called Buschenschank. These are traditional restaurants only found at wineries and must adhere to strict rules; no coffee, no beer, no lemonade, and no hot food. Hence, you have to stick to the local wine. We opted for a glass of white wine made from the Sämling 88 grape. This dry aromatic white wine is perfect for this type of dish. To round off our meal we had a dessert as well before we continued the hike. Since the winery is right on the border with Slovenia, the choice fell on Poganzen. A Styrian oven baked specialty with quark, with origins in Slovenia.

Borderlands

Part of the hiking trail follows the border with Slovenia. Sometimes we did not know to which country we were moving in. No worries. Even though border controls have been reintroduced in much of Europe, you do not have to bring your passport on a wine hike in Southern Styria. The wine region extends across both sides of the border, and the grapevines also dominate the landscape south of the border. You don’t have to be particularly interested in wine to enjoy this hike. The hilly terrain and beautiful cultural landscape of Southern Styria are perfect for anyone who likes to be outdoors while enjoying the view. The hike we went on is suitable for anyone with a normal level of fitness including children.

For more info: The South Styrian Wine Road

Outdooractive App

We took the opportunity to test the free version of the hiking activity on outdooractive.com. We liked the easy-to-read maps and the information. On a wine tour, it shows all the places along the way where you can have a drink and eat. The app is in German and the information is machine translated into English, which is not always correct. Nonetheless, it worked great on this wine hike, but we will also test it more on longer alpine hikes.

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Written by Arnold Weisz

Globetrotting multilingual communications specialist born in Vienna, Austria – with passion for scuba diving, golf and culinary delights! 15 years of experience as a scuba- and travel reporter for among others: X-Ray Dive Magazine and Dykking.