Located about 40 miles west of Vienna, the Wachau is a steep valley of exceptional scenic beauty. Between Krems an der Danau and Melk, the Danube River winds its way through a landscape of terraced vineyards dotted with medieval castles. Melk is also renowned for its huge baroque abbey with a magnificent gilded interior. The fairy-tale town of Dürnstein is where King Richard the Lionheart of England was famously held captive by Duke Leopold V of Austria in 1192, as a result of their bitter quarrel in Acre during the Third Crusade. The Wachau is well-known for its production of apricots and grapes, both of which are used to create specialty liquors and wines. The area is also the source of Austria’s most prized dry Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners. These wines have great elegance and sophistication, derived from the steep, stony slopes on which the vines are planted. Wines designated “Smaragd” are the most prized.