Austria: taverns, terraces, and heritage
From the wine taverns and city vineyards of Vienna, to the red-wine country around Lake Neusiedl and the spectacular riverside terraces of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wachau—there’s a lot to cram into a visit to Austrian wine country.
Vienna is a city of many attractions, a veritable treasure trove of high culture—music, art, architecture, and literature. What is perhaps less known about this great European capital is that it is also the only major international city with its own significant plantings of vineyards. There are more than 700ha (1,730 acres) of vines within the Viennese city limits, all of them accessible by public transport (bus, tram, metro, or bicycle). And there are wineries, too, many specializing in a singular Viennese style, Wiener Gemischter Satz, which has lately become something of a cult favorite among some of the world’s more discerning sommeliers.
It makes sense, therefore, to begin a tour of Austria with a visit to one of the city’s many Heurigen—wine taverns that are owned and run by small growers serving their own wines, a long tradition in the capital. The Austrian tourist board, www.austria.info has information on where and how to get to the best Heurigen. There is also a tourist train—the Vienna Heurigen Express; www.liliputbahn.com—that runs through the picturesque growing districts of Kahlenberg and Ginzberg to and from Nussdorf, with spectacular views of the city below.
With even the great imperial palace Schloss Schönbrunn, having replanted its vineyards, and with some of Europe’s finest wine-centric hotels, Vienna has some claim to being Austria’s wine, as well as political and administrative, capital. But internationally the country is of course better known for the wines produced up country—and nowhere more so than the 100km (62 mile) stretch of the Danube that runs upstream from Vienna. This is where you find the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wachau, where terraced vineyards cover the steep banks, punctuated by historic castles, villages, and country houses, and where, along with the neighboring regions of Kamptal and Kremstal, and closer to Vienna, Wagram, Austria’s great Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners are made. The UNESCO-protected stretch between Melk and Krems is particularly well set up for tourists, with options for exploring vineyards including bike (with or without electrical assistance) hire or a ride in a river ferry or cruise. When deciding which vineyards to visit, the Austrian Wine marketing board has an extensive searchable database at www.austrianwine.com, while the charming riverside hotel and restaurant Gasthof Prankl in Spitz offers a comfortable base for your exploration (www.gasthaus-prankl.at).
Austria’s red wine heartland may have come to the world’s attention more recently than its famous white vineyards, and it may not attract quite as many tourists, but the warm, sunny climate and peaceful rural feel of this corner of eastern Austria near the border with Hungary is well worth a visit. Book a room in the charming guesthouse-cum-restaurant Gut Purbach (www.gutpurbach.at) in the attractive, eponymous village, take a bike or car around Lake Neusiedl and, ensuring you’ve booked appointments in advance of your trip (again making use of www.austrianwine.com), make a beeline for top producers of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St Laurent reds such as Pittnauer (www.weingut-pittnauer.at), Judith Beck (www.weingut-beck.at), Moric (www.moric.at), and Umathum (www.umathum.at).
A small modern guesthouse with its own small vineyard and a wellness center including sauna, Gasthof Hotel Zum Weinberg is a place for relaxation during a tour of the Burgenland wine region.
Kleincsater 10, 7512 Kohfidisch | +43 33 66 77 245 | www.weingasthof.at
With its clean-line modernist interior, this stylish Vienna hotel has been designed with wine in mind at all times, with each suite named after a famous Austrian winemaker.
Lange Gasse 13, 1080 Vienna | +43 14 00 11 22 | www.hotel-rathaus-wien.at
With four Vespa motor scooters at guests’ disposal, Gut Pössnitzberg is well equipped for tours of the surrounding wine country. The neighboring Winery Tscheppe offers wine tastings, while the hotel itself has a variety of relaxing spa treatments.
Pössnitz 168, 8463 Leutschach | +43 34 54 205 | www.poessnitzberg.at
A fine 17-room guesthouse run by historic Wachau producer Nikolaihof, offering a convenient base for visiting the estate’s winery and restaurant, but the whole of the Wachau region.
Kainztrasse 14, 3512 Mautern an der Donau | +43 67 64 33 18 28 | www.advineas.at
It’s hard to get closer to the action than this spa hotel, which is built into the southern face of a vineyard. A modern hotel in a castle setting, it offers one of the best wine lists in the region and luxuriously comfortable accommodation.
Starzenberg 144, 8333 Riegersburg | +43 31 53 20 020 | www.genusshotel-riegersburg.at
For more restaurants with award-winning wine lists click here.
One of the world’s leading co-operatives, Domäne Wachau is the major player in the region from which it takes its name, and offers an extensive tasting and tour of its baroque and modern cellars.Dürnstein 107, 3601 Dürnstein | +43 27 11 371 | www.domaene-wachau.at
Make an appointment to visit this leading biodynamic producer, a red wine specialist in Burgenland, with its beautiful vineyard stretching out behind the winery in the village of Frauenkirchen.St Andräer Strasse 7, 7132 Frauenkirchen | +43 21 72 24 400 | www.umathum.at
This well-established Styrian winery is home to an excellent onsite restaurant, its award-winning wines available for visitors to taste, and with experts at hand to offer advice on wine pairing.54 Welitsch, 8461 Berghausen | +43 34 53 20 237 | www.weingut-georgiberg.at
A leading light of the renaissance of Wiener Germischter Satz, Vienna’s Fritz Wieninger winery has stunning views across the capital from the city’s Nussberg district. A perfect introduction to the Heuriger culture.Stammersdorf Strasse 31, 1210 Vienna | +43 12 90 10 12 | www.wieninger.at
With a program of wine tastings led by an expert available and opportunities to sample traditional local cuisine, this small winery in Carinthia has an idyllic setting and welcoming atmosphere.Hubertusweg 4, 9560 Feldkirchen in Kärnten | +43 42 76 93 080 | www.trippelgut.at