When most people think of Vienna, they automatically visualize classical music, museums, and cafes. It is easy to dive into culture and cake while in the city, but there is one experience that cannot be missed: the Vienna wine scene. The city is deliciously surrounded by vineyards, making it the largest wine producing urban area in the world. Whereas many wine producing regions require some logistical planning to visit, most cellars and vineyards in Vienna can be reached by public transportation.
Just imagine taking a tram or bus to sample a Grüner Veltliner at a sunny terrace in the Viennese city limits or staying warm and cozy with the locals at a Heuriger during winter. A Heuriger is a tavern located in the cellar property which serves only the wine it produces with local food. During my January trip to the city, I spent the day discovering three unique Vienna wine cellars and learning about traditions passed on from generation to generation in Austria.
First stop: Weingut Christ. On a snowy morning in Vienna, we arrived to Weingut Christ. What better way to warm up than with a hearty Austrian red, right? We met Rainer Christ, the owner of the cellar for a tasting and a tour. The Christ family has been in the wine business for over 400 years. Rainer has been making wines since his twenties, learning from family tradition and traditional education. Now in his late thirties, you can see how he incorporates modern with traditional in his cellar. You can see it from the design of the tasting room, with its clean lines to the traditional wood lined room of the Heuriger. We enjoyed their rich reds, especially the Blauer Zweigelt. Weingut Christ, Amtsstraße 12, 1210 Wien
Second Stop: Lenikus. Compared to other wineries that have been in Vienna for years, Lenikus is a new kid on the block, producing its first vintage a few years ago. In an area that tradition means everything, Leinkus wine is just taking its first steps but does not fail in delivering quality wines. The Lenikus cellar is nestled in a posh residential area literally in front of a tram stop in Vienna. It currently does not have a Heuriger, but it is planning to open one this summer. You can feel the youthful innovation in the wines from its team: Erich the winemaker and Bernhard in sales, two young Austrians in their late 20’s developing a brand from scratch. From the unforgettable hints of honey in their 2012 Grüner Veltliner to the innovative labels of their bottles, this is a creative cellar. Note that the labels: they are designed with drawings of fossils indigenous to the Danube area adapted from the Museum of Natural History of Vienna. Wein Lenikus, Cobenzlgasse 2, Wien
Happy from a day of drinking everything from an Austrian Shiraz to Rose Sekt (Austrian sparkling wine), we ended the day where it all began: at Christ. Peter Bernreiter and Rainer Christ are neighbors and eat at each other’s Heurigers. It was an Austrian version of Cheers, everybody knew one another, everybody approached Peter to say hello. As we ate roasted pork and dumplings, we were grateful to have the chance to explore the Vienna wine scene, straight from those who so passionately craft these wines in the city of Vienna.
Third Stop: Weingut Bernreiter. This cellar encompasses all the traditional aspects of a traditional Viennese cellar. We were given a tour by Peter, the owner of the cellar and heuriger. Similar to the Christ cellar, this has been in the family for many years. There, we had the opportunity to not only tour the cellars but preview the whites still on the steel barrels in the cellar. The passion that Peter has for his wines is as palpable as the wine he shares with us fresh from the cellar. Although it was a cold January day, I couldn’t help visualize how amazing the cellar courtyard must be in the summer time. Guests can spend the day drinking wine under the grapevines of the property.