Vienna (Wien) is both the capital of and a very important winemaking region within Austria. Although best known for the white grapes Gruener Veltliner, Riesling, Weiβburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay, several quality reds can also be found in city limits of Vienna.
Vienna’s winemaking tradition is as old as the city itself first documented in 1132 and in the late Middle ages. Historically, vines were grown throughout the city, knowing now boundaries. Today, winegrowing areas are generally on the outskirts bordering the city of Krems, situated along the Danube and the Thermenregion. Still, Vienna remains the only metropolis with significant wine cultivation within city limits. There are over 630 wine producers and 180 Heurigen* located in Vienna to date.
In the northern portion of the city, along the Danube grapes belonging to the Pinot family are prominent, but travel to the west and Chardonnay, Riesling and Weiβburgunder dominate due to the rich limestone soils. Southern Vienna is known for black, earthy soils which produce strong flavored whites and opulent red cuvees.
The top growing area within Vienna is Nussberg. Located on a steep slope, Nussberg is known for extraordinary Riesling and Gruener Veltliner wines.
Despite the outstanding single varietal wines coming out of Vienna, Viennese culture specializes in a unique style of wine: Gemischter Satz. Literally meaning, “mixed sentence” Gemischter Satz is a field blend of grapes grown by a particular winegrower. In these fields, multiple grape varietals are grown together with little interference from the winegrower. When the harvest begins, many times the winegrower does not know the exact grapes he/she is harvesting; therefore the blend is never the same and always a unique wine to its year. Gemischter Satz is one of the only wines of the world akin to the slow foods movement – no interference, just natural growth and cultivation of the vines.
Most of the estates in Vienna are old, family estates, but are managed by young winemakers who have had the opportunity to study in winemaking techniques abroad. This accounts for an impressive balance of modern technology and traditions of old in which Viennese winemakers craft their wines.
Vienna is the only city in the world that has made accessing the rest of the countries wine regions so easy; each region is just a short train ride away.
*A Heurigen is a traditional Viennese food and wine bar in which the wine is stored in large vats and designed to be drunk locally within a year. This wine is best enjoyed in the moment with good company.