Historic maps of the Wachau winegrowing region

Historic maps of the Wachau winegrowing region

The Wachau Regional Wine Committee has published historic maps of the winegrowing region based on the Franciscan Cadaster, a survey carried out in the Wachau region between 1821 and 1823.

The maps show how widespread winegrowing and other types of agriculture were in the Wachau 200 years ago, as well as the Ried (or vineyard) names and other field names that were in use at the time.

This set of maps conveys a clear impression of how much tradition and significance are attached to the use of vineyard names in the Wachau region, Anton Bodenstein, chairman of the Regional Wine Committee, points out. Maps are thus an important source of information for looking more closely into the history behind the designation of origin of the smallest geographic unit, the Ried.

Most of the vineyard names still common today in the Wachau were first mentioned as early as in 13th or 14th-century documents, when the designations were used as proof of property held and to help identify specific vineyards.

Ried names later became more significant as a result of the increasingly common practice of distinguishing wines using a precisely defined designation of origin limited to a very small area. Since the mid-19th century, vintners in the Wachau have been using vineyard names to designate their wines, alongside references to the Wachau region and village names.

The Franciscan Cadaster
About 200 years ago under Emperor Francis I, surveyors were commissioned with drawing up a comprehensive set of maps as a basis for taxing all property owners under the same terms. The Franciscan Cadaster, named after the emperor, was intended to replace the taxation systems installed under Maria Theresia and Joseph II, which had used landholdings as the taxation base. As a result, the share of the tax burden became independent of actual yields, and of how much or little effort the landholder put into the property, whereas the new system left natural disasters such as thunderstorms and hail unaccounted for.

Between 1817 and 1861, about 300,000 km² of land and over 50 million land parcels were surveyed, with boundaries entered in plans, resulting in the first comprehensive modern property register.

Some of the Ried names found their way into the Franciscan Cadaster with erroneous spellings, as the surveyors, many of them from Italy, had nothing to go on except the pronunciation furnished by local inhabitants. Examples here include ‘Sandl’, which became ‘Wandl’, and ‘Dürrthal’, later rendered as ‘Türkthal’.

Edition by the Wachau Regional Wine Committee 2016–2017
Almost 100 individual maps were merged to create a complete map entitled “Das Weinbaugebiet Wachau” (Wachau Winegrowing Region). Additional maps were prepared of five sub-areas: Municipality of Spitz with parts of the Municipality of Mühldorf and Aggsbach Markt, Municipality of Weißenkirchen, Municipality of Dürnstein, Municipality of Mautern with parts of the Municipality of Unterbergern, and the Municipality of Rossatz-Arnsdorf.

The six-part map collection is available from: Regional Wine Committee of the Wachau, Schlossgasse 3, 3620 Spitz/Donau, office(at)ik-wachau.at