Vineyards and wine are integral to both the culture and economy of the Austrian capital. Vienna boasts 128 small wineries and roughly 1,500 acres of grapes (about the same size as the Santa Clara Valley wine region in California), and the scores of quaint, picturesque taverns the wineries run—called heurigen—are as essential to daily life in Vienna as the pubs of Dublin or the cafés of Paris. They’re community centers, but with really delicious local wine and food.
Steep hills like Bisamberg and Nussberg surround the city, and vines thrive on these protected slopes on either shore of the Danube. Districts like Heiligenstadt, Nussdorf, Grinzing and Sievering are synonymous with wine. The sandy loess and limestone soils are well drained and warm up quickly—keys to surviving Vienna’s continental climate of fierce winters and warm summers. White varieties like Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Muskateller and Pinot Blanc do well here, along with cool-climate reds like Pinot Noir and Zweigelt.
About 80 percent of Vienna’s wine is white. While Grüner Veltliner is the region’s mainstay, its standout is Wiener Gemischter Satz, a field blend, which (finally) was declared an official style last year. Many vineyards grow multiple varieties, then harvest and vinify them together, creating these unique, intriguing, and often nutty, food-friendly white blends. Think Grüner mixed with Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Muskateller, and you get the idea—fragrant, zesty, easy-drinking wine that’s perfect for Wiener schnitzel and sausages.
The Brands to Drink
Weingut Christ: Rainer Christ was instrumental in reviving the field blend in a varietal-dominated world. His concentrated but svelte wines burst with flavor. He also makes an impressive, peppery Syrah.
Weingut Wieninger: Fritz Wieninger, another leader of the Gemischter Satz movement, farms his vines biodynamically—and his wines never fail to burst with vitality.
Weingut Lenikus: This relative newcomer is determined to bottle the most authentic Viennese wines. With already stellar, bright whites, this is a producer to watch.