Though Vienna is known for patisseries, opera, music and glistening pedestrian shopping plazas, the city also maintains a viticultural focus. The Wieninger winery was founded as part of that traditional Viennese heurigen (winebar) system established in the 18th century. Born in 1966 to this wine growing family, Fritz Wieninger represents the fourth generation in the current house. Before his birth it was his mother that was the family winemaker, as she was one of the first female graduates of the Oenology program at Klosterneuberg (Europe’s oldest wine making school). Emerging from his own training in the wake of the Austrian Wine Scandal of 1985, Fritz spent a year working vineyards in California. It was during this time that he was convinced that the future for Austria lay in making wines of great quality and distinction, and it was also his inspiration for making top quality wines at his own home from the classic Burgundian varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Once returned from his travels, Fritz took firm control of the family winery and the arc of success was swift and steep over the next few years – his first exports in 1989, Falstaff’s “Winzer der Jahr” (Winemaker of the Year) in 1990, and first exports to the USA in 1995.
LOCATION OF VINEYARD
In many of the world’s greatest cities one encounters reminders and celebrations of wine and local winegrowing. Wine bars are not unique to Vienna but it is unique to Vienna that the wines poured there are grown within the city limits. The soils of the region’s vineyards are diverse, ranging from loess and sandy soils to limestone, slate and chalk.
The climate is regulated quite closely by the Danube river and influenced quite a bit by the winds of the Pannonian plains to the east. Average annual rainfall is about 26 inches, with dangerous hail a constant threat to the city’s vintners.
Fritz has worked diligently to acquire and develop classical vineyard sites for Veltliner and Riesling, while also carefully cultivating red wine vineyards planted with both native and international varieties. More recently he has led the revival of the Wiener Gemischter Satz tradition, excelling in the production of these multivarietal field blends.
Geh-mish-ter Sah-ts- the “mixed set”. More of a description of a vineyard than a wine style, these mixed vineyards were the traditional way to plant when the main concern for the producer was to prevent crop damage or loss due to weather patterns or disease. Today’s young inspired winemakers, led at the forefront by Fritz Wieninger, have discovered in these old mixed plantings a taste and a wine that is, as Fritz puts it, “all of Vienna in one glass”.
Now recognized by Slow Food International as a Presidio product, the Wiener Gemischter Satz is the past and again the future of winemaking in this region. Yes, it is complicated to pronounce and understand, but in the glass the Wiener Gemischter Satz is unique in its aspect and flavor, unique to the place from which it comes. The Wieninger winery focuses on two different wines; a light style for everyday drinking and a complex version from old vines on the famous Nussberg hill overlooking the city’s skyline. The winery is also responsible for pioneering top-quality examples of French varieties in the region, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.