Visiting the Vienna Wine Gardens
Visiting the Vienna wine gardens, located in the Vienna Woods, can seem daunting to first time visitors, especially if you’ve only booked a short excursion to the city. The Vienna Woods aren’t exactly central to the tourist path. Thus, many newbies, including myself on our first trip to Vienna, tend to skip them. This was a huge mistake!
Much like beer plays an integral part in Munich’s culture, wine plays a major role in Vienna’s culture. In fact, Vienna is the only major metropolitan city in the world to boast 1,700 acres of vineyards within the city proper, albeit on the edge of the city.
On your next trip Vienna, do yourself a solid and explore the Vienna wine gardens. This easy to use guide will get you started on a taste journey of authentic Vienna.
The Famous Vienna Heuriger
A wine garden is actually called a heuriger. The heuriger tradition was born in the 18th century when Emperor Joseph II allowed the country’s vintners to sell newly fermented wine tax-free. Soon after, winemakers were setting up tables in their gardens and vineyards, inviting Viennese to partake in the new tradition.
The heuriger has since evolved into more permanent wine gardens, most of which now serve food. In fact, some food historians argue that the heuriger is the first farm-to-table food movement. Many of the vineyard owners also grew vegetables, raised cattle and chicken, etc. Thus, the food they served was right from the farm.
Today, that same rustic tradition is found in the food offerings. Don’t expect fancy, though, which for some odd reason seems to accompany farm-to-table in the Unites States. Many heurigers offer buffets stuffed with hearty offerings of both cold and hot selections.
A heuriger only serves wine directly from it’s vineyard. The wines are young so they tend to be a tad bit rough and on the sweet side. Locals joke that it takes several years of experience to tell the difference between the wine and vinegar.
Sturm, the red, adds a level of heartiness not found in most wines. Locals toast “Eat up!” when consuming it. If you prefer a dry wine, look for the word “trocken” on the menu.
Where to Find A Heuriger
There are several wine-garden suburbs in the Vienna woods. Grinzing is the most famous and thus the most touristy. Nussdorf tends to be more popular with the locals and provides more of an authentic experience. Heiligenstadt is famous for its musical heritage and even boasts a wine garden, Beethovenhaus, where Beethoven lived when he was composing his Ninth Symphony.
The heurigers don’t keep the same convenient schedules as restaurants and most aren’t open during the winter. If there’s a particular heuriger you want to visit, be sure to check their website for operating days and hours. The Vienna tourism website has a great directory of heurigers for your research and reference.
In season, catch the metro to the wine suburb of your choice, walk around until you find a board with the words “ausg’steckt” written on it, and get ready for a traditional Vienna experience. If you prefer a more guided experience, I highly recommend a bike tour of the gardens with Viator.
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