The city of Vienna is unique among world capitals in that it is its own wine region; yet its 1,729 acres of vineyards are less than the holdings of many hundreds of individual estates around the world. This perspective places Vienna in an economic context as a micro-region. However, the cultural significance of these vineyards, and the wines they make possible, are another story altogether.
Winemaking has been a part of Viennese life for more than 1,000 years, and was such a valued component of the city’s culture that in 1784 Emperor Joseph enacted a special law to protect it, specifying that all Austrian farmers, including winemakers, could sell their own products without interference from the state. This wine trade took place in a heurige, a wine bar (where, incidentally, no other producer’s wine or even beer was served). This law remains, and is one of the main reasons Vienna has managed to retain its winemaking traditions. As the city grew, the vineyards in the center of Vienna gave way to the expansion, but the vineyards on the outskirts continued, which, as it turns out, served the wines well. The vineyards on the outskirts are higher elevation, often sloped, with ventilating breezes and cool nights that offer a more favorable climate for viticulture than the city below. Diverse soils, with sand, fossil limestone, and calcium bring minerality and complexity to the wines. Vienna is traditionally known for the production of Gemischter Satz, a true field blend, consisting of many different grape varietals grown and harvested together. In the past, farmers produced Gemischter Satz in order to avoid the economic risk of poor harvests. Today, the method has grown in popularity as winemakers look to the past for inspiration and strive to maintain authenticity within the zone.