During a Scenic Jasper river cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg, I opted for a visit to Loisium Winery, an architectural wonder located in Melk, a city in lower Austria, next to the Wachau Valley along the Danube. My experience might have been a dream if not for the photographs I took.
The winery reminded me of the d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, Southern Australia, but we were in Austria, looking at a winery built by New York architect Steven Holl. I learned that to provide shade for vineyard workers and to keep mosquitoes away, walnut trees were planted.
Vineyards are everywhere in Melk, including vines that grow on ledge rock. Fifty-five percent of vines grown in Wachau Valley produce white wine made from grüner veltliner grapes, followed by Riesling.
Our tour at Loisium Winery was surreal. I thought maybe I’d consumed a magic mushroom because I couldn’t believe the experience from start to finish. First, our group gathered in what seemed like an underground well, and this is when the water and laser show began, with a voiceover like the Wizard of Oz. I was ready to flee and grab the Wicked Witch of the West’s broom to bring back to this mysterious voice.
From there, we toured through a cave with stops to view elements of the winery’s storied history. We viewed an example of wine’s evolution in comparison to a baby’s feet. There were actually baby’s feet to tickle in an interactive stop before we reached the end of this 900-year-old cave to watch a laser show.
My favorite in the region is the red zweigelt grape. The 2016 Steininger Zweigelt brought forth a bouquet of molded berries and a taste much like a Burgundian red. This wine would be great with a serving of goulash. I fell in love with this wine and purchased a bottle for about $30 and brought it back to the U.S., where I later enjoyed with friends during a dinner party.