Wien (612 ha) - The New Interpretation of a Long Wine Tradition
Until recently, wines from Wien, or the wine-growing region of Vienna, Austria's capital city, were regarded as being simple 'Heuriger', or wine tavern wines. Nowadays, they enjoy cult status and are listed in gourmet restaurants. This paradigm shift is thanks to a small number of forward thinking producers, who revived the traditional Viennese wine blend, the 'Wiener Gemischte Satz', which is now internationally acknowledged as being a truly Austrian wine. The significance of Wiener Gemischter Satz as the showpiece of Vienna's wine sector combined with the strong desire for a protected designation of origin convinced the Regional Wine Committee of Vienna to apply for DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) status for the wine. With this, Wiener Gemischter Satz became Austria's ninth DAC designation of origin. The first Wiener Gemischter Satz DAC wines to be released are from the 2013 vintage.
Principal grape varieties
Leading vineyard sites
Bisamberg, Nussberg, Kahlenberg, Georgenberg
Yet is viticulture really possible in a capital city? In some parts of the world, vines are planted just for show, a mere tourist attraction. But Vienna is different. The 612 hectares of planted vines play a significant economical role, provide a sustainable amount of greenery around the city, and form the basis for high quality wines.
Right up until the late Middle Ages, vineyards also flourished within the inner city walls of Vienna, in today's prestigious First District, yet nowadays, vines are cultivated in the outer districts and the outskirts of Vienna. Wine producers from the northern wine-growing villages of Strebersdorf, Stammersdorf and Jedlersdorf also have vineyards planted on the Bisamberg, north of the Danube, with its favourable conditions for the Pinot varieties.
In the west of the City, from Ottakring, Hernals and moving northwest towards Pötzleinsdorf and the 19th District, the mineral-rich shell limestone soils offer ideal conditions for Riesling, Chardonnay and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), particularly around Heiligenstadt, Nussdorf, Grinzing, Sievering and Neustift am Walde. In the south parts of Vienna, black earth soils around Mauer, Rodaun and Oberlaa favour the production of full-bodied white wines and rich, supple red wines.
Virtually all Viennese producers cultivate a vineyard with the traditional 'Gemischter Satz' varieties. There are strict guidelines, and this definition refers to the wine from any one vineyard, that is planted out with a number of different varieties, that are harvested, pressed and vinified at the same time.
The regulations for the Wiener Gemischter Satz specify that at least three white quality grape varieties should be planted together in one Viennese vineyard and must be listed in the vineyard land registry as Wiener Gemischter Satz. In the wine, the share of one grape variety must be no more than 50%, while the share of the third variety must be at least 10%. In earlier times, this form of viticulture was often a precaution against irregular yields and variable harvests, yet today, this style of wine has become extremely popular, either as an easy drinking, medium-bodied style, or as a powerful Reserve wine with aging ability. Likewise, the prime single-vineyard Nussberg has been rediscovered, and has attracted a large number of dynamic and innovative producers from all parts of Vienna, even those who have decided to turn to winemaking from different professions.
The attraction of the traditional Viennese 'Heuriger' wine taverns is undiminished, and popular with local and tourists alike. There is no distinction between the larger, more prestigious examples with large buffets, that are open all year round, or the smaller, 'Buschenschank' versions, hidden amidst the vineyards and only serving food and wine for a few weeks per year; they are always full. Even the most discerning patron is likely to be satisfied with the wide selection of top class wines served by the glass.