Austria

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Austria: Viennese vines and waterside wines

Some wine-loving visitors to Austria might never feel the need to leave Vienna, with its charming wine taverns run by producers themselves and wineries within the city limits, but a Danube journey—by road or river—is not to be missed, nor is the red-wine region around Lake Neusiedl.

While New York City and London have their urban wineries, and the outer suburbs of Santiago de Chile have expanded into the wine lands of the Maipo Valley, no great city in the world has anything like Vienna’s 700ha (1,730 acres) of vineyards within its boundaries. You need only take a bus, tram, metro, or bike from the city center to reach them. Their deliciously old-fashioned field blend of grapes is known as Wiener Gemischter Satz—a particularly distinctive specialism of the city’s wineries.

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 find 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 Grinzberg to and from Nussdorf, with spectacular views out over 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 within its walls, Vienna has quite a strong claim to being Austria’s wine, as well as its 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 60-mile (100km) stretch of the Danube that runs upstream from Vienna. This is where you will find the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wachau, where terraced vineyards cover the steep banks, punctuated by historic castles, villages, and country houses. It’s here, along with the neighboring regions of Kamptal and Kremstal and, closer to Vienna, Wagram, that 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 hire (with or without electrical assistance) or a trip on a river ferry or cruise. To help you when deciding which vineyards to visit, the enterprising Austrian Wine Marketing Board has an extensive searchable database (www.austrianwine.com), while the charming riverside hotel and restaurant Gästehaus Prankl in Spitz offers a comfortable base for your exploration (www.gasthausprankl.at).

Austria’s red-wine heartland may have come to the world’s attention more recently than its famous white-wine 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 and restaurant Gut Purbach (www.gutpurbach.at) in the attractive village of the same name, tour by bike or car around Lake Neusiedl, and, ensuring you’ve booked appointments in advance of your trip (which you can do at www.austrianwine.com), make a beeline for top producers of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St Laurent reds, including Pittnauer (www.weingut-pittnauer.at), Judith Beck (www.weingut-beck.at), Moric (www.moric.at), and Umathum (www.umathum.at).

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Palais Coburg

This grand, luxurious Vienna palace-hotel boasts one of the world’s best wine lists—an exhaustive choice of old vintages from all over the world that runs to thousands of bins.
Coburgbastei 4, 1010 Wien | +43 1 51 81 82 00 | contact@palais-coburg.com | www.palais-coburg.com

Hotel Rathaus Wien Wine & Design

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 Wien | +43 14 00 11 22 | office@hotel-rathaus-wien.at | www.hotel-rathaus-wien.at

Loisium Wine & Spa Resort

Strikingly designed modernist hotel set among the vines in Langenlois in Kamptal, offering a wine spa, a wine shop with cellar-door prices, and a restaurant serving local cuisine.
Loisiumallee 2, 3550 Langenlois | +43 2 73 47 71 00 | hotel.langenlois@loisium.com | www.loisium.com

Ad Vineas Gästehaus

A lovely 17-room guesthouse run by historic Wachau producer Nikolaihof, offering a convenient base for visiting not only the estate’s winery and restaurant but the whole  of the region.
Kainstrasse 14, 3512 Mautern, Wachau | +43 67 64 33 18 28 | reside@nikolaihof.at | www.advineas.at

Gut Purbach

This stylish Burgenland inn combines a well-regarded restaurant, where traditional local dishes are given a French twist, with a hotel featuring artwork-decorated rooms.
Hauptgasse 64, 7083 Purbach | +43 2 68 35 60 86 office@gutpurbach.at | www.gutpurbach.at

For more restaurants with award-winning wine lists click here.

Domäne Wachau

One of the world’s leading cooperatives, 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 | office@domaene-wachau.at | www.domaene-wachau.at

Umathum

Make an appointment to visit this leading biodynamic producer, a red-wine specialist in Burgenland, with its beautiful vineyard stretching out behind the winery.
St Andräer Strasse 7, 7132 Frauenkirchen | +43 2 17 22 44 00 | office@umathum.at | www.umathum.at

FX Pichler

One of the big names of Wachau white wine. A highlight of an appointment (booked in advance) at FX Pichler is the stunning modernist winery, with views across the vineyards.
Oberloiben 57, 3601 Dürnstein, Wachau | +43 2 73 28 53 75 | www.fx-pichler.at

Weingut Wieninger

A leading light of the renaissance of Wiener Gemischter Satz, Vienna’s Fritz Wieninger winery has breathtaking views across the capital from the city’s Nussberg district. It’s a perfect introduction to the Heuriger culture.
Stammersdorfer Strasse 31, 1210 Wien | +43 12 90 10 12 weingut@wieninger.at | www.wieninger.at

Weingut Bründlmayer

Leading Kamptal winery in Langenlois, 70km (45 miles) northwest of Vienna, with a high reputation for Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, as well as making some of Austria’s best sparkling wines.
Zwettlerstrasse 23, 3550 Langenlois | +43 2 73 42 17 20 weingut@bruendlmayer.at | www.bruendlmayer.at