Grüner Pastures

The Wachau region in Lower Austria is wine country. By "Lower Austria," I mean elevation not Southern. It is a stretch of the Danube valley, one side looking over at the other. Forests turn into vineyards, which stretch on until a cluster of red roofs, pastels and stone pops up and then disappears into more green. These are the towns, all of which have a tall impressive steeple of some sort peeking out from its center like a raised hand announcing its attendance.
We stayed in the picturesque town of Spitz for a night when setting up our tent would have been a cold, wet affair. It was all cobbled and narrow, with an imposing castle ruin and a small stream. A lot of the town seemed to be built right into old stone walls or sides of cliffs. A house near the stream had a back corner that seemed to melt right into a bulbous rock which had been covered in white plaster to match the facade. The resulting look reminded me of a Macy's Day Parade balloon all rounded out and puffy.
Spitz seemed smaller than it actually was, something we realized only when looking down at it from its Medieval gate. From the landmark, a number of walking trails began, taking us deep into the forest. Whenever there was a slice of a view available out and down, we would see terraces and vines. A lot of people see this part of the world on a wine tour. Driving, biking, bussing, cruising along the river, they stop at one heuringen another. The family-run wine taverns are each open for only two or three weeks per year. I assume that's a diplomatic way of making sure they all share the tourist wealth. The info office had a list of openings, but we were more intent on walking sans tipsiness.
Our hotel wasn't really a heuringen, but it did serve its own house wine. As you can see, the label had a particularly homemade feel and the young woman who served us looked suspiciously like an older version of the little girl in the photograph. Neither of us could muster up the courage to ask if she was, indeed, Famous Label Girl. It would have been an awkward question, made worse by our Germglish (English infested with badly pronounced Deutsch every now and then - an injustice to both languages involved). For the record, Austrian Riesling is typically less sweet than German. That's a piece of information I brought with me into Europe and has served me well. Cheers!
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