Vienna is the only major capital city in the world with significant wine production nearby. The vines still extend, however, into parts of the city itself, as they have done for hundreds of years.
Viticulture in Vienna is as old as Vienna itself - the Celtic settlement of Vedunia, and later the Roman garrison of Vindobona both cultivated grapes. The earliest named vineyards were documented in 1132, and by the late middle ages, all city districts had their own vineyards.
Viennese Heurigen culture, which so dominates Viennese wine to this day, was made possible by Emperor Josef II, who in 1784 passed a law allowing wine growers to sell their wine alongside home-made food. Viennese will often on a nice day take the tram out to go for lunch in a Heuriger, ideally one attached to a winery in a vineyard district. If you are visiting Vienna for business or tourism, take the time to do the same.
Our main winemaker in Vienna is the fantastic Rainer Christ, always one of the best !
- Gemischter Satz
Today in and around Vienna are some 680 hectares of vines. The geological diversity is unique, ranging from alluvial, glacial gravels on shell interspersed with limestone weathering to loess and shale beds. Technically, it is the last bump, or the first, of the Alps!
Best areas are Heiligenstadt, Nussdorf, Sievering, Grinzing and around the Bisamberg hills.
This great wealth of diverse soils and layers also explains the traditionally large species diversity.
The main varieties are Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Pinot Blanc always surprises me, you should try it!
- Gemischter Satz
This is not an obscure grape variety but a winemaking method that seems very strange today but was the universal method for making wine in the past.
In Gemischter Satz different varieties are grown together, harvested together and vinified together. Originally, growers used the varying degrees of ripeness and acidity as a way to ensure consistent quality and guard against the risk of poor harvests - they often had no idea what was growing in their vineyards, but it worked out in the blend. With modern knowledge and temperature control, quality was no longer a concern the trend switched to single varieties and big cuvées. Gemischter Satz fell out of favour, except as a basic wine or for some stubborn people who just would not give up on vineyards planted by their great grandparents.
Recently a group of these stubborn Vienna winemakers, with "our own" Rainer Christ as one of the leaders, worked to make Gemischter Satz "cool" again - and succeeded.
Gemischter Satz can be a vastly different wine every year. It is not the expression of a winemaker's style or the varieties, though of course you can recognise both, but is it a distinctive expression of the terroir and vintage. It is always complex but hugely drinkable and very food-friendly