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. Many 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 colourful 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) was a splendid experience.
With the help of outdooractive.com’s hiking app, we quickly found the starting point and headed straight out among the vines. The route was mainly laid out along the tractor roads used by the farmers. Well signposted with “Kulinarische Weinberg-wanderung” (Culinary vineyard hike), we hiked from vineyard to vineyard, where you could get a glass of wine or two 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. Indeed there is no better way to enjoy a wonderful day outdoors than while tasting the region’s specialities.
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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 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.
Lovely hiking trails
The steep terrain and cultural landscape make 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.
We stopped at Weingut Zirngast, where we enjoyed a large slice of bread 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 from the Sämling 88 grape. This dry aromatic white wine is perfect for this type of dish. To round off our meal, we had dessert before continuing the hike. Since the winery is right on the border with Slovenia, the choice fell on Poganzen. A Styrian oven-baked speciality with quark, with origins in Slovenia.
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 dominate the landscape south. However, 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 an average fitness level, including children.
For more info: The South Styrian Wine Road
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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