Home Itineraries Future Tours FAQs Tour Prices Registration Cooking Classes Villa del Vino BLOG Photo Gallery Testimonials About Us Contact Us RN Home


Harvest in Austria & Hungary
September 20-30, 2018

The Austrian-Hungarian Empire was one of the world’s greatest powers for centuries.  Ruled by the Hapsburg Monarchy, this dynasty controlled central Europe from the 16th to the early 20th century.   This area has been making wine for over fifteen hundred years.   While borders and politics have shifted, Austria and Hungary are now moving to the forefront in a different arena.  Both countries are producing world-class wines.  Many in-the-know-oenophiles have fallen in love with Austria’s darling white varietal, Gruner  Veltliner.   Even some wine experts, however, might not be privy to the fact that a Hungarian red recently beat out Bordeaux’s illustrious Chateau Petrus in a blind-tasting.   If you think of Hungarian wines as sweet or insipid, you’re two decades too late.

From a culinary point of view, Austria & Hungary offer a fascinating gastronomy reflecting their earlier vast Kingdom.  Hungary’s cuisine is especially interesting due to Turkish influences such as paprika and phyllo.   Austrian pastries rival the best of France.  (In fact, the croissant is originally from Austria.)  For foodies, Austria offers an interesting mélange of its neighbors---Italy, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Germany.

The time of year for this tour has been carefully chosen to coincide with the grape harvest, the majestic early autumn colors, the reduced number of tourists, and the favorable temperatures of idyllic September.  The trip will begin in Budapest and end in Vienna.   You should consider arriving early, or staying after the trip has finished to experience these two wonderful cities.

Trip Highlights: 

  • Private tours & tastings at la crème de la crème wineries (including the one that out-performed Chateau Petrus in the famous blind-tasting)
  • Visits to 4 of Austria’s most important wine districts, and 4 of Hungary’s most regarded wine regions
  • Lodging in a romantic castle-hotel, a 15th century monastery right on the banks of the Danube River, a Napa Valley-esque modern wine resort, and a gorgeous Bed & Breakfast

September 20:
Welcome to Time-Capsule Hungary

Lunch stop in charming Eger village


Morning: The trip begins in downtown Budapest, however, we’ll leave the city immediately and head east toward one of the country’s most famous wine areas, Tokaj.   Once known exclusively for its sweet wines, Tokaj has reinvented itself and is now also producing brilliant dry wines.

Afternoon: In route, we’ll stop at a jewel-box of a town, Eger, where time has seemingly stood still for centuries. There will be time to explore its beautifully preserved baroque buildings, walk to its hilltop fortress, or shop for reasonably priced local items.  As this is a wine-making town, there will also be plenty of wines to sample.  Continuing our journey easterly, we‘ll check into our castle-hotel in the Tokaj countryside.

Evening: There’s not a better way to kick off this tour than a visit to the vineyard of one of Hungary’s rock-star producers who has been making wine since 1502.  From its hilltop location, you’ll quickly glean many elements related to the uniqueness of Tokaj’s terroir.  Dinner tonight will be fit for royalty.  In fact, this very special setting is where a King of Hungary was crowned.

September 21:   “Mad” About Wine & Food

Morning:  Free time.  Get a head start on the day by a workout in the castle’s fitness center, take a walk through the gardens or surrounding vineyards, enjoy a swim, or simply chill out.   Late this morning, we’ll visit the cellars of our castle for a private tasting.  Producing one of the best sparkling wines in the area, the castle also produces still dry as well as sweet wines.

Afternoon:  Today we’ll venture to the nearby town of “Mad,” one of the epicenters of the district’s fine wine production.  Boasting a hill with premium sun exposure, great drainage & volcanic soils, Mad is giving nearby Tokaj a run for its money in making both drop-dead gorgeous bone-dry as well as sweet wines.

Evening:  Dinner will be at one of this wine district’s gastronomic shrines.  Owned by a genius winemaking family, this uber-modern culinary workshop should turn your perception of Hungarian cooking on its ear.

Topnotch quality tonight

September 22:   UNESCO World Heritage Vineyards

Tokaj’s vineyards are among the few protected by UNESCO


Morning:  Late morning we’ll visit one of the few female winemakers in the country...and she is from France.  Bordeaux trained, this wine guru and her husband have won countless awards from the international press for their dry whites & reds, along with some jaw-dropping sweets.

Afternoon:  Now, on to the town of Tokaj where there will be free time to explore the wine-centric village.  Then, a private tasting at another illustrious winemaker---this tasting will be in the garden of his home.

Evening:  Tonight we’ll dine in the countryside at one of the area’s top wineries.

September 23:   Killer Reds

Morning:  Off we’ll head toward Hungary’s southern border.

Afternoon:  Our lunch stop is perfectly timed for one of the Hungary’s most ambitious wineries.  Located near the Croatian border, this wine region owes its terroir in part to warm winds coming from the Adriatic Sea.  Red clay soil and perfectly situated hillsides complete an idyllic terroir for the company’s award-winning reds.  Next, we continue south to Villany, Hungary’s southern-most wine region.  Soaked with sun, this is mega red country…think Bordeaux blends.

Evening:  Tonight we’ll dine at the winery that scored higher than Bordeaux’s Chateau Petrus in a blind- tasting.

Villany offers some incredible cellars and wines

September 24:   Volcanoes & Sparkling Wine

Somlo, Hungary’s smallest wine district, is an ancient volcano

Morning:  Free time to explore the village of Villany before the throngs of tourists from Budapest arrive for the harvest’s three-day weekend.  We’ll also sneak in a late morning visit to another super-star producer.

Afternoon:  We begin our journey toward Austria heading to our last wine area of Hungary.  This one is tiny but very special.  Ten million years ago it was an underwater volcano in a very shallow inland sea.  The volcano erupted and today provides mineral-rich soil spewed deep from the earth’s strata.  These soils contribute interesting minerality to the wine, as well as near-perfect drainage.

Evening:  We’ll dine tonight with a spectacular vista of the vine-draped volcano.

September 25:   Austria’s Burgenland Wine Region

Morning:  We’re off to Austria, but just a stone’s throw across the border.

Afternoon:  The trip’s first sip of Austrian wine will be at one of one of the country’s finest vintners.  Voted as Austria’s best, this winemaker was the first to plant international grape varietals, and to then age them in French barrels.  Our second tasting in the late afternoon will be at another stellar producer who is a Burgundy lover. 

Evening:  Dinner tonight will be regional specialties prepared in an atmospheric restaurant located on the charming town’s center square.

The sweet village of Rust is surrounded by vineyards

September 26:   Time to Relax, Explore, or Sip

Dinner in our B&B’s cellar

Morning/Afternoon:  Most of the day is free.  How about a walk?  Rent a bike? Or, a visit to the lake that’s < a mile away?  The town also offers a plethora of small wineries that you can visit at your leisure.  Late today, however, we’ll enjoy a private tasting in the garden of the winemaker’s home, a Baroque 16th century mansion.   BTW…these wines are remarkable.

Evening:  Tonight we’ll dine in a beautiful setting with a specially prepared meal for Wine-Knows.

September 27:   World-Class Whites

Morning:  Next, we head to Austria’s most notable wine area, the Wachau.  Located along the spectacular Danube River, this is dry, complex, white wine country…home to ethereal Gruner Veltliners and some earth-shaking dry Rieslings.

Afternoon:  Our lunch stop will be at a boutique winery where the entire family is involved in the business.  From the winery’s hilltop location, we’ll begin to learn about how over millions of years the Danube gorged its winding waterway through granite creating an extremely diverse geological terrain.  Next, we’ll check into our historic hotel located right on the Danube.

Evening:  It’s only fitting that our introductory dinner to this glorious wine region will be at one of its culinary gems.  Recently opened, this gastronomic star is owned by a mover-and-shaker winemaking family.

Durnstein is perfectly situated with dramatic scenery in every direction

September 28:   Castle & Monastery

Gottweig Monastery dominates the landscape for miles


Morning:  Free time.  There’s an invigorating walk uphill to a castle above our village where views of the Danube are mesmerizing.

Afternoon:  Today we visit the Wachau Valley’s most renowned cultural site.  A UNESCO World Heritage property, Gottweig Monastery was established in 1094.   After the tour, we’ll lunch on the terrace with spell-binding views of the Danube and vine-clad hills in every direction.  A late afternoon tasting will be held at a producer whose family has been producing wines since the 19th century.  Get ready for the earth to move.

Evening:  Tonight is free. Trip participants will receive recommendations of Wine-Knows’ favorite spots.

September 29
:   Culinary Wonders of the Hapsburg Dynasty

Morning:  Free.

NoonWe’ve saved some of our favorite wineries for the last.  We’ll start off with a tasting at a winery whose family has been producing wines for >200 years.  Their vineyards are world-famous, and are their wines are beloved by wine critics around the globe.

Afternoon:  Free time for lunch in the story-book Danube village of Krems.  Then, a tasting at another legend in the wine industry whose family had been in the wine business for four generations.  Their dramatic vertical vineyards are some the priciest real estate around… and their wines are dazzling.

Evening:  Our farewell dining event will be held in a private castle that produces stellar wines.

Mind-blowing Austrian pastries

September 30:  Auf Wiedershen...and Farewell


Morning:  The trip ends officially after breakfast.  The town in which we are finishing is located <50 miles west of Vienna.  Transport to downtown Vienna (or to the Vienna airport) can be arranged.

Links to the following:




State of California Seller of Travel # 2091232-40