On its route from the north of Finland to South-East Europe, the Iron Curtain Trail passes for the first time through a wine region in the realm of Retz and Znaim/Znojmo. The landscape up to there is mostly dominated by forest. While the area around Hardegg is as much as 90% forested, in both of the neighbouring regions Retz and Retzbach this proportion drops down to 11%. Here is where the transition takes place from Waldviertel to Weinviertel.
The appellations of these regions have only existed since 1867. Until then they bore the names ‘Ober-Manhartsberg District’ and ‘Unter-Manhartsberg District’ as a part of the territorial division system of Bohemia. The namesake Manhartsberg lies about 30 km south of Retz and is one of the few mountains in eastern Austria.
Its highest point stands 537 meters above sea level, surrounded by forests and with a cross at its peak. Its foundation consists of the hard granite – which is largely the case throughout the Waldviertel – of the Bohemian Massif, the oldest mountain range in Austria.
The Weinviertel however belongs to the Molasse basin, which includes clay, silt, sand, and gravel and is Austria’s youngest geological zone. These two geological zones, sharing a common border, are divided by a mere 300 million years.