My wife and I visited this region during a day trip from Vienna in August. The ride from Vienna takes a little less than 1.5 hours. There is a highway which leads to Krems and the entry to this valley. You will need to buy a pass at any gas station to drive on the highway. Quite simply, this was one of the most beautiful and easy wine regions to visit in the world. The Wachau Valley is considered Austria's premier wine growing region and the wines are truly world class. Most of the wineries are located along the road on the North side of the river. Here is some information which may come in handy for anyone visiting this region.
Obviously, this is the main reason to visit. The area is accustomed to visitors and we did not need appointments at any of the wineries we visited. However, without appointments you are taking a chance that nobody will be home. Most of the wineries are located in family homes without hired staff. Some wineries to keep in mind:
FX Pichler- Easy to find in Oberloiben at the intersection of the only stoplight in the Valley.
Hirtzberger- In the town of Spitz. Go through the town and up the hill to find the family home and winery.
Knoll- In Unterloiben. Nice selections of wines.
Alzinger- Located in Unterloiben right next to Knoll.
Prager- Located in Weissenkirchen right along the main road.
Two restaurants stand out.
Restaurant Loibnerhof- This is must. One of the finest retaurants we visited on our trip. It is in Unterloinben across the street from Knoll. It is owned by the Knoll family and a wide selection of their wines are available. Weather permitting, dine in their apple orchard.
Gasthof Am Forthof- Located on the main road just as you enter the valley in Krems. The owner Helga Figl-Kraus is most welcoming.
All of the wineries will be selling their most recent releases at about 50% of what you would pay in the US. Also consider:
Vinothek Thal Wachau- Located in the village of Weissenkirchen. This small shop is the only building on the river side of the main road in the whole valley. They sell wines from 50 different local producers.
THINGS TO DO
Although every town is pretty, I liked Durnstein the best with its ruined castle on top of the hill overlooking the town. This is the castle where King Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned and ransomed on his way back from the Crusades. There are other prehistoric findings if Willendorf and other castles along the river as well.
WHERE TO STAY
Try the Gourmet-Hotel Am Forthof run by Helga Figl-Kraus which also has the restaurant mentioned above. Very convenient location.