The Styrian wine region is at its busiest in Autumn. And it’s easy to understand why! On a crisp autumnal day there is nothing better than jump into a car and leave the city to head there. The drive takes about 45 minutes from Graz. Drive South and get out of the motorway at Spielfeld just before the border to Slovenia. You can then continue on the normal road through the countryside taking in breathtaking vineyard views.
Many are surprised when they find out that Austria even has a wine region. However, some of the best types of wine in Europe are produced in Austria. And there are records of wine being produced here dating back 4000 years. There are 16 different wine regions in Austria, along the border to Slovenia and Hungary in the East. The most grown variety of grapes is the Grüner Veltliner. Today we will explore one of them, the Styrian wine region.
Eating and drinking in the wine region
Driving along the Styrian Wine Road (Steirische Weinstraße) there are many places called Buschenshank or Weingut dotted along the road. This is a must-do if you are visiting the wine region! In those restaurants you can try types of local wine, accompanying it with a platter of cold cuts, cheese and spreads and a bowl of Käferbohnen salad (beetle beans).
My favourite place to go to is Weingut Pichl. The restaurant is one of the smallest I have seen in the wine region. They do not take table reservations unless you are staying in one of their rooms. But take a chance on it and go see if any table is available! I recommend the Muskateller, but my parents love the Sauvignon Blanc. You can also buy bottles to take home with you.
Sturm und Maroni
If you visit the Styrian wine region in early autumn, it is usually the time of year where the production of wine is starting. Before the grapes turn into wine, Sturm is the drink of choice. It comes usually paired with roasted chestnuts. Sturm is a very refreshing fizzy drink, which tastes like grape soda, but take care! It is alcoholic but it doesn’t taste like it, so it is easy to drink a bit too much and regret it afterwards!
The bear zoo
Besides food and drink, there are other things you can do in the wine region. For example, you could go visit the bear zoo. Here bears are rescued from dire situations and given a better life. There are also more animals in the farm and you can buy some carrots to feed them all. You can also feed the bears, but by throwing pieces of carrot through the cage.
Hiking in the wine region
Here you can find all the hiking routes in the southern Styrian wine region and all the Buschenschänke en route: suedsteirischeweinstrasse.com
A friend of mine told me about a nice viewpoint just over the border in Slovenia (a country which also has its own wine region). Drive to the Weingut Tement so you can find some parking space. Continue along the road and then turn right to go along the narrower road. You will see signs marking the end of Austria and beginning of Slovenia. At some point you should see a small village. There will be signs on the left marking a path going up the hill, which you should follow. At the top of the hill there is a Buschenschank and a tall viewpoint tower. Climb up the tower and enjoy the wonderful view over the Styrian and Slovenian wine region.
Here are directions for the short hike: Google map. You can also get there by car, but I think it’s only allowed to park if you eat at the restaurant.
Don’t want to leave Graz at the weekend? Here are some other tips on what else you can do on a free Sunday: Sunday in Graz.