The Südsteirische Weinstrasse (Sothern Styrian Wine Route) is the most popular one of all the wine roads in Styria. Its popularity is more because of the picturesque landscape than because of the wines (I found better wines in other areas of Styria but most of them sold here are not bad either).
The road runs along and over the tops of the wine hills along the frontier between Austria and Slovenia and the road itself is originating and ending in Austria but sometimes it is the frontier itself and even runs a few short bits through Slovenian territory so you should not be surprised that you may meet both Austrian and Slovenian police cars. "Schengen" is now fully valid for Slovenia as well so you may freely cross the frontier and there are no more checkpoints. But you should nevertheless always carry a passport or identity card.
South Styria is famous for its wine, especially with its grapevipe covered hills and brilliant sunshine. Gamlitz has some good wine producers and you can go to the estates (Weingut) to try out their wines and buy a few bottles. Some Weinguts have small but good restaurants for visitors and tourists to enjoy the excellent local food and wines.
One of the places I went was Schloss Gamlitz (Castle Gamlitz) where I attended a wine tasting tour complete with tour of its wine museum and wine cellar. After the wine tasting, I had lunch at the Schloss Gamlitz own little restaurant. The food was good and the wines served were equally good.
Take some time to explore Gamlitz wine producing areas and Weinguts. You will not regret it!
The hilly region between Styria and Carinthia is the land of vineyards and fine wines. The south Styria, where there are many vineyards and grapevines-covered hills, is also nicknamed "The Tuscany of Austria".
During the Autumn season, when the trees and leaves are changing colors, the whole area is very picturesque and beautiful.
Go there to enjoy the new wine harvests and the beautiful landscape.
A "Buschenschank" is something similar to a "Heuriger"- it is kind of a restaurant at a vinegrower. They serve their own vines and some simple, mostly cold dishes too. The vinegrower Polz is, beside "Tement", one of the most famous and best vine growers in the area.
There are many good restaurants in the area but the best approach to the local wines and tasty local snacks is the "Buschenschank". According to a very old Austrian law the vintners can serve their own wines and other food they are producing themselves at their farmsteads and pay less taxes for it. The number of days they are allowed to do it is limited. A wreath or bush of twigs hanging above the entrance shows that the place is open that day. Therefore the name "Buschenschank". It is the same what in other wine producing areas of Austria (for example Lower Austria) is called Heurige. There are always enough open along the wine roads. In good weather you are here sitting on great terraces right between the wine hills with a great view over the landscape which often is named the "Styrian Tuscany". It really strongly reminds of the Tuscan landscape. The best time to enjoy a Buschenschank is from middle afternoon until early evening.
Two warnings: 1.) This area is heavily visited on weekends in September and October. Avoid the weekends under this time if you can.
2.) If you see a bus parking near a Buschenschank dont enter, look for an other one, there are enough open around.
Favorite Dish: You get here exclusively the wines of the place where you are. If you do not particulary ask for anything special you get the wine of the last harvest, this means form November onwards the wine of the running year. The weeks after the grapes are harvested you can drink the "Sturm" which is the only partially fermented juice of the grapes in its intermediate state on the way to the wine. Since not all sugar of the grapes is fermented to alcohol it is sweet and looking hazy. It is very tempting to drink from it much more than you should ;-). To the wine (or the Sturm) you get very tasty local snacks. You should not miss to try the typical Styrian farmer's salads which can come in many varaitions containing cold beef, cheese, beans, onions, etc. but always with a great dressing of vinegar and the famous Styrian pumpkin seed oil ("Kernöl", the Green Gold of Styria). For this the seeds of a special type of pumpkin are taken which is only cultivated in Styria and in a few neighbouring regions of Southern Burgenland, Northern Slovenia and Western Hungary. To get the oil the seeds which have no shells are first roasted and then pressed only mechanically. The result is a dark green oil looking at thefirst glance like the stuff you get out of the engine of your car when it is due to change the oil. Pumpkin seed oil has a great nutty taste which you almost inevitably will love. In ancient times this was the poor man's oil but you cn easily understand that nowadays this stuff is not cheap. You can also buy it here at the spot but expect the same prices as for excellent olive oil in Tuscany.
This local restaurant is well-known amongst locals and city folks from Vienna for having one of the best food and wines around. Their outdoor terrace restaurant overlooks one of the most beautiful views of south Styria - hills covered in vineyards dotted with colorful houses and cypress trees. It is like overlooking the hills of Tuscany in Italy.
They are open during the warm months of April until October. Unfortunately, they are closed during the Winter months from November to March.
Business hours: Wednesdays to Sundays, from 11.00 - 22.00 hours.
In September to October months, from Mondays also from 11.00 to 16.00 hours.
Favorite Dish: All the food is fantastic, made from the best local produce around; most organic and locally grown in Styria.
You must try the "Steirisches Backhendl" (Styrian Fried Chicken), the best fried chicken I've ever eaten. The local chicken covered in batter and deep-fried to golden-brown. It is crispy "finger-licking" good, succulent and juicy on the inside.
Let me tell you. I have eaten so many fried chicken in my life but the Steirisches Backhendl from this restaurant is the best of all. Hard for me to describe its absolutely delicious wonderful taste, but whenever I crave for fried chicken, I was willing to drive 2.5 hours to this restaurant in south Styria!
After the main meal, you must also try their desserts. Oh, soo heavenly delicious!
There is a big variety of wines in this rather small area. The leading sort is the Welschriesling (which should not be mistaken to be a Riesling). Other popular sorts are Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Sauvignon Blanc. Only few red wines.
Pumpkin Seed Oil is a "must" in Styria. This "Styrian green gold" gives many salads a great nutty touch but it can even be enjoyed with vanilla icecream (for the more adventurous gourmets - really great!).
What to buy: The "Green Gold of Styria" is made from the seeds of a special kind of pumpkins which are only grown here and in a few neighbouring regions in Burgenland, Slovenia and Hungary. The seeds are first roasted and then pressed only mechanically without any thermal or chemical help. It was until about three generations ago the "poor mans oil" in these regions but then it became a very precious thing, the prices are comparable to excellent olive oils from Tuscany. buy it best right at the producers (they do not keep much of the oil on stock but press it always from the grains for the estimated needs of the next few couple of weeks).
What to pay: As mentioned above the prices are in the range of top olive oils.