Vienna is a beautiful city: a fusion of Northern and European styles run by a people who fit this role as well as their city does – the straight, controlled precision of Germanic efficiency mixed with the relaxed Southern European take on life spiced up by a jazzy and unique Viennese flair.
The Danube, like in most other capitals nearly, is the lifeline of the metropolis with the city sitting on both banks. There’s one thing that the Danube is more famous for though than being the home to some of Eastern Europe’s prettiest cities: wine.
Grown all along the river, the Danube wine scene is of equal importance to that of the Rhine (including its tributaries), the Loire and even the Rhône – the unique microclimate of the river valley and surrounding area make the cultivation of wine, particularly white, ideal and the soil structure together with the cooler air in the summer, the milder air in the winter and the historic use of the land create a unique mixture that plays a very important role in the finished product.
The world-famous Wachau with its crisp, apple-driven Rieslings and peppery Veltliners is just an hour away from Vienna and the river Danube’s wineries leak into the city itself – the city of Vienna has its own remarkable wine industry, something that few world capitals can lay claim to.
On the surface it would seem that Vienna’s wine scene is very similar to that of the rest of Austria: Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Blauer Zweigelt dominating the show. The Viennese winemakers are however an experimental bunch and have planted Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and many other varietals within the city boundaries. It’s not just pioneering winemaking that happens here though, the traditional practise of Gemischter Satz still prevails whereby different varietals grown in the same vineyards are picked together and pressed together (in stark contrast to a Cuvée whereby individually created varietal-specific base wines are blended after fermentation).
So Vienna is modern, bold and unique but also bolted firmly to its tradition, its wine rarely escape the city itself and most is enjoyed in the city’s many Heurige – wine bars where only the local produce and wine from the last harvest is enjoyed by the people who live in and visit the city. The Viennese cuisine is a defining factor in the creation of the wine with the reds being crafted towards the direction of the famous Tafelspitz – a luxurious cooked beef dish and the whites favouring the world’s favourite breaded veal dish: Wiener Schnitzel.
On nearly 700 hectares of vineyard around 230 winemakers are responsible for the creation of wine, most of which is grown on the outskirts of town. Around 80% of production is taken up by white wine. Particularly in the west of the city, where the Danube enters Vienna, are a large number of wineries, enjoying the limestone-driven soils found all of the Danube basin.
For those not living in Austria or Germany, some of these wines can be hard to come by. If you need help locating one of these (or a similar) wine near you, let me know and I'll do what I can to ensure you get a bottle somehow. If you stock Vienna Wine in the UK, USA or another English-speaking country and wish for a bit of free advertising, let me know and I'll list your company in this post. Click here for the contact form.