“Anyone who goes on a journey will have quite a tale to tell...” This quote from Matthias Claudius holds much truth, particularly for anyone who chooses Austria as a holiday destination. Travellers can relate stories about Austria’s breathtaking landscapes, its castles, palaces and picturesque villages. They can recount tales of Austria’s fabled hospitality and its unique regional cuisine – but more importantly, they can tell of Austrian wines, which draw gourmets from around the world to explore this welcoming country.
Austria is not only an attractive wine-growing country in the summer – it works its charm on tourists throughout the year. In spring, more than 1000 Kellergassen (streets lined with cellar buildings) in Niederösterreich start coming back to life. Here, visitors can try the new vintage, sample some traditional regional dishes and enjoy a diverse programme of cultural events. Niederösterreich, the nation’s largest Qualitätswein region, where the daily routine, architecture and landscapes have been shaped by hundreds of years of wine-growing tradition, is known for the Wachau valley (a UNESCO world heritage site), the Weinviertel with its countless romantic Kellergassen (which are affectionately called “villages without chimneys”), the ancient Roman archaeological discoveries of Carnuntum, the LOISIUM WeinWelt (Loisium World of Wine) experience in Langenlois, the Literature & Wine event series, and (somewhat later in the year) the Thermenregion’s “longest bar in the world”.
Steiermark (the “green heart of Austria”) is also well-positioned for year-round wine tourism. The vintage tastings held once the days start getting warmer have become a significant magnet for visitors, inviting people to spend a long weekend tasting the freshly bottled, vibrant and fruity wines so typical of Steiermark. Meanwhile, souls are warmed by the sight of the reawakening vineyards that flank the gently rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Styrians like to display their culinary prowess, tempting visitors throughout the year with specialities of protected Styrian origin, such as delicious Vulkanland ham and pumpkin seed oil. Especially in autumn, it is particularly pleasant to combine a trip to the Steiermark wine-growing region with a relaxing, soothing visit to one of its numerous thermal baths.
When the days are at their longest and nights at their shortest, Burgenland really comes into its own. Extended bicycle tours or leisurely days spent swimming in Europe’s westernmost steppe lake, Lake Neusiedl, promise perfect relaxation in the warmth of summer. In the evenings, Burgenland’s traditional cuisine can be enjoyed in any of the nearby towns or villages, alongside an excellent selection of red, white and sweet wines. Red wine lovers in particular are sure to be thoroughly satisfied further south in Mittelburgenland (also known as Blaufränkischland) and around Eisenberg.
But what about Wien? Of all the world’s capitals, Vienna remains unique as the only one with a significant presence of viticulture within the city limits – testimony to which is the vibrant tradition of Heurige wine taverns. The wines from Austria’s charming and historic capital complement the city’s renowned cuisine in a unique way, making any visit to Vienna wonderfully complete.
The doors to the fascinating world of Austrian wines is always open – a world that is avidly waiting to be explored.