Vienna, A City of Wine

Wine is an integral part of Vienna – just like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, and the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Viennese wine is not just to be found in the traditional heuriger. It is in the process of conquering the entire city.

Vienna Austria and wine are inseparable. Vienna is the only world capital to produce significant quantities of wine within the city limits. Vienna wine cultivation is one of its hallmarks. But there is more to Viennese wine than that – it is an economic factor, a defining element of the urban image, a contribution to the urban ecosystem but also to people’s wellbeing – for both the Viennese and the guests to this city. In a worldwide first, a new law enacted at the start of 2015 stipulated that the capital’s vineyards had to be used for winegrowing to prevent valuable growing regions from falling prey to real estate developers – effective heritage listing the city’s vineyards.

For years wine was almost only associated with the heuriger, the typical Viennese wine tavern but in the meantime, it has almost become a household word. Vienna is becoming ever more established as a wine-growing region. Each year Viennese wine is the central focus of numerous events and has become a fixture in many wine bars, wine shops, and inns of the city. In short: Viennese wine is readily available and can be enjoyed at many spots in the city.

The Viennese Heuriger

Traditionally, Viennese wine is drunk at the heuriger. Today’s wine tavern law goes back to an ordinance issued by Emperor Josef II in the year 1784. It allowed winegrowers to serve wine produced in their own vineyards. A place where the Viennese heuriger wine is offered can be recognized by the “Ausg’steckt” sign and the fir branch which also indicates that the tavern is open. These two symbols also guarantee that only self-produced Viennese wines are served here. The relaxed atmosphere, the gardens on the edge of town, the good wine, and the tasty delicacies make the heuriger a popular destination for a diverse public. The word “heuriger” also has a second meaning. It is used to refer to wine from the current year which is “christened” on St. Martin’s day (November 11) before being receiving the title “Altwein” (old wine) on the same day a year later.

 

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Vienna Wine Region

Vienna is not only a province and the capital of a province. It is also a wine-growing region in its own right with a wine-growing surface of about 700 hectares and average annual production of 2.4 million liters. About 80% of the area under cultivation is covered with white wine vines. Wine types such as Riesling, Weissburgunder, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gelber Muskateller produce distinctly fruity and elegant wines. A growing number of Viennese winegrowers are producing red wines, in particular, Zweigelt and St. Laurent along with trendy international types such as Merlot, Pinot noir, and Syrah. The Viennese wine is influenced both by the Pannonian climate contributing to its maturity and the cool winds from the north lending it fresh and fruity notes. A perfect interplay of forces, producing fruity-elegant wines that are fun to drink and are the perfect accompaniment to a heuriger snack or Viennese cuisine.

 

Honored for Outstanding Ecological Quality

Viennese wine growers are also producing excellent bottled wines that are very popular in Viennese restaurants. Regular awards at samplings organized by renowned specialist journals and at the SALON Austrian Wine confirm the high quality of these wines. In the leading wine disciplines, Riesling and Weissburgunder Viennese producers have often presented the country’s best wines.

Precisely due to its proximity to the city, Vienna wine growers see ecologically sound and sustainable cultivation of their vineyards as an especially concern. Some even go one step further. Leading Vienna wine grower Fritz Wieninger made the switch to biodynamic cultivation, and the Hajszan Neumann winery (taken over by Fritz Wieninger in 2014) also uses the same method. Jutta Kalchbrenner (Weinbau Jutta Ambrositsch) has also experimented with biodynamic cultivation in several vineyards. This means refraining entirely from systemic fertilizers and instead of using natural extracts for plant protection, such as teas that serve to strengthen plants in the wine gardens in the tradition of homeopathy. Around 30% of the Viennese wine is organic.

 

Field Blend – A Viennese Specialty Returns

One specialty among Viennese wines is the so-called “Field Blend” (“Wiener Gemischter Satz”). Already in the 19th century, when in most of the other Austrian wine-growing regions high-yielding grapes were being produced, Viennese winemakers focused more on quality grapes such as Riesling, Rotgipfler, Weissburgunder, and Traminer. They were mixed with grapes of different varieties and planted, harvested, and vinified together. The resulting wines were not only very multi-layered and complex, merging various qualities such as freshness, fruitiness, and rich body. They also meant secure yields for the winemaker. Given the different bloom times of the grapes, even unfavorable weather conditions during the bloom period never endangered the entire harvest but only specific grapes. After having been hardly visible for a very long time as a simple wine from the tap at heuriger, the field blend is now experiencing a sort of renaissance in recent years. This very typical, characteristic Viennese wine is sold as light and succulent wine but also as an intense, complex top bottled wine.

 

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