Did you know that the city of Vienna produces 2.8 million litres of wine each year? Vienna’s vineyards — which cover about 700 hectares of land — are one of the many things that make it such a magical place. Of both cultural and environmental significance, the vineyards are so highly treasured that they are protected by a Viennese law that states that they must be cultivated and the land cannot be used for other purposes.
It may seem strange to think of a major city being able to harvest the number of grapes needed to keep this industry running, but this fun fact is largely due to geographic luck. The city’s outer districts to the north and west open to rolling hillsides, with the perfect soil and weather conditions — largely in part to the proximity to the Danube river — to produce a diverse variety of grapes.
About 80% of the wine produced in Vienna is white. Grüner Veltliner, Rheinriesling,
Weißburgunder, Chardonnay, and Welschriesling are some of the most popular varieties, but a uniquely Viennese treat is Wiener Gemischter Satz. To qualify as a Wiener Gemischter Satz, a wine must be made up of at least three types of grapes, grown together in the same vineyard, within the city of Vienna. While Wiener Gemischter Satz was originally conceived as a way of protecting against poor harvests and was often used in spritzers, a number of Viennese vintners have been working hard over the past couple of decades to improve both the quality and reputation of the wine. Today, Wiener Gemischter Satz is highly coveted by oenophiles around the world!
Aside from producing wine, many local vineyards sell their wines to customers directly through their on-site bottle shops and wine taverns (“Heurigen”) where patrons can enjoy food and wine in a casual setting — which sometimes even includes live music! Heurigen culture is considered such an essential part of Austrian life that it was added to the country’s UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2019. Throughout the city of Vienna, there are about 100 of these wine taverns, each with its own unique charm. Here are a few we’d love to visit:
Christ once epitomized an old-fashioned Heuriger, but has undergone a transformation recently. Visitors can now enjoy wine and delicious food in the sleek conservatory, in the tastefully updated “old Heuriger,” or on the patio, under a vine-covered arbor.
Zahel wines are organic and made with a focus on “creating something in harmony with nature and with respect for tradition.” Tradition is also apparent in their Heuriger — one of Vienna’s oldest — housed in a 250-year-old farmhouse with wooden beams and a tiled stove.
Frequently named one of Vienna’s best Heurigen, Wieninger is known for its abundant buffet. Visitors can savor Austrian specialties and seasonal dishes along with their wine in a cozy, lantern-lit setting.
While we make not make it to Austria by the New Year, we will raise a glass from here at home while preparing for Salute to Vienna in North America this New Year's Season. Prost!