Austria’s reputation as the “delicatessen shop” of Europe has grown from Emperor Joseph II’s decree of 1784, which granted farmers the privilege of selling their self-made foodstuffs, wine, and cider directly to consumers. This set the foundation for Austria’s popular wine tavern (Heurigen and Buschenschänken) culture where every region has evolved its own unique food and wine specialties. Throughout Austrian wine country, one encounters family owned and operated wineries – some are rustic farms, while others are chic, modern boutique wineries. Many offer accommodations – from homey B&Bs to luxurious spa hotels.
Chic urban flair, palaces, parks, and a vibrant wine culture make Vienna one of the most desirable cities to visit in Europe. 580 hectares of vineyard are nestled in the hillsides at the city limits and provide Vienna with an element of charm that is unique among world capitals. The Wiener Gemischter Satz is a wine specialty made from a field blend of different grape varieties that are fermented together. This and other delicious wines can be enjoyed in the Viennese wine taverns. Whether an upscale Heuriger with a large buffet or a small, secluded Buschenschank set in the vineyards, the Viennese Heurigen culture is a magnet for locals, visitors, and tourists. It has even been included in the national UNESCO index of intangible cultural heritage in Austria.
As Austria’s largest wine region, Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) is most famed for Grüner Veltliner and world-class Riesling, but there are many other exciting wines to discover along with numerous exciting recreational activities. While bicycling along the foot of the vineyard slopes on the banks of the Danube and its tributaries, one can stop for refreshment at one of the many wine restaurants or Heuriger in the winegrowing areas Wachau, Kremstal, and Traisental. The Loisium in the Kamptal is a futuristic visitor centre that offers a mythically-staged wine experience tour. The stunning Stift Klosterneuburg in the Wagram is a 12th century monastery and offers tours that feature many important works of historic art and Austria’s oldest privately owned winery. The Carnuntum offers gloriously restored palaces from Roman times in the Marchfeld, the interactive Archaeological Park, and the Donau-Auen National Park. Visitors to the Thermenregion will enjoy the lively wine tavern scene as well as the regional wine shop at Freigut Thallern or theatre, operetta and wellness in the cultural centre and spa-town Baden. The Weinviertel is famed for its picturesque cellar alleys and golfing friends of Grüner Veltliner will appreciate playing 18 holes in the midst of a romantic vineyard landscape at the Veltlinerland course in Poysdorf.
The south of this province near the cultural city of Graz is home to crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Morillon (Chardonnay), Gelber Muskateller, Welschriesling, and specialities such as Schilcher. The wine road in Südsteiermark connects delightful wine villages between Ehrenhausen, Platsch, and Berghausen and leaves lasting impressions of impressive wineries, renowned restaurants, and rustic wine taverns in a soulful countryside. In Vulkanland Steiermark, an entirely Styrian vinotheque in Sankt Anna am Aigen offers a good overview of the region’s production and popular tourist destinations include the thermal resorts strung along the volcanic fault line. Schilcher is a key success factor in terms of wine tourism in Weststeiermark. This distinctive rosé specialty, vinified from the rare autochthon variety Blauer Wildbacher, is an authentic ambassador for one of the most unspoiled and strikingly beautiful wine landscapes in Europe.
The red wine heart of Austria beats in Burgenland. In addition to white and world- famous sweet wines, it is above all Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt that attract visitors to the sun-drenched region between Lake Neusiedl and Eisenberg. Among the many attractions in the Leithaberg region are the state capital Eisenstadt with the Esterházy Palace, the lake festivals in Mörbisch, and the music festival in the ancient Roman quarry in Sankt Margarethen. Numerous stork families perch their nests atop the chimneys in the charming and historic city centre of Rust, which is world famed since the Middle Ages for its noble sweet wine specialty, Ruster Ausbruch. While hiking in the Rosalia-Kogelberg Nature Park in the Rosalia wine region one encounters rare types of fruit, strawberries and sweet chestnuts in a peaceful rural countryside. Complementing the wine and fine dining programmes that cater to the guests of the Neusiedlersee wine region are bicycle tours, equestrian excursions, and water sports. Exhibitions and concerts at Schloss Halbturn are among the cultural highlights while a spanking new resort in Andau promises abundant new recreational activities and events. The thermal springs and a colourful range of leisure activities increasingly attract visitors to Mittelburgenland, otherwise affectionately known as Blaufränkischland. Eisenberg in southernmost Burgenland is the state’s most primal viticultural landscape and an insider tip for those seeking authentic wine experiences in idyllic surroundings, far away from more crowded wine centres. On the Csaterberg near Kohfidisch and along the Pinka Valley Wine Trail from the Wintener Weinberg through the vineyards of Kulm and Gaas, one finds quaint little Kellerstöckl (cellar houses) with interesting wines.