Two Viennese wineries that surprise
Before the Romans arrived in the Austrian capital, vines were being tended on the gentle slopes beside the Danube. Many winemakers continue to rekindle the Viennese love affair of high-quality wine made and enjoyed within their own city limits.
Fritz Wieninger blazed the trail for the modern image of Viennese wine. Championing the return of a ubiquitous field blend of different white grape varieties, the Gemischter Satz, his wines express the unique terroir of a city that has a staggering 700 hectares under vine. While his wines are now sought after by sommeliers and enthusiasts the world over, it is also possible to enjoy them at the source. At Heuriger Wieninger, the concept of Heuriger – a local term for wine tavern – exemplifies the historic value and contemporary quality of these unique urban wines with a slow food ethos. In 1784, emperor Franz Josef II decreed that these establishments may only serve their own produce. Typically, wine and local specialities are enjoyed at these convivial institutions.
Following the green-belt surrounding Austria’s capital to the south-east is the Zahel winery. It numbers among the couple of hundred winegrowers within the city and one of 140 Heurigen serving the local drop. With humble origins of just half a hectare under vine and a four-table tavern, Zahel has grown over the last four generations to become one of Vienna’s most visited and respected. It is likewise responsible for the modern incarnation of the Gemischter Satz wine, which by law may contain anywhere from between 3 to 20 different grape varieties. Alexander Zahel continues to cultivate this tradition intrinsic to Viennese identity. Garnering global recognition with exports worldwide, the winery attracts international visitors that include American food critic Anthony Bourdain.
Text Rachael Vance
Photos Mario Pernkopf