Best of Vienna – the Heuriger
Vienna is more than just the Austrian capital, it is also a winegrowing region in its own right. Every year, the city's 230 winegrowers produce about 1.7 million liters of wine that simply can't wait to be drunk - traditionally the best place to start is a Heuriger, or wine tavern. Also known as a Buschenschank, the Viennese Heuriger is a place where people go to feel good. In these hostelries, which are mostly located slightly out of town close to the vineyards, winegrowers offer an array of wines such as Grüner Veltliner, Gemischter Satz, Chardonnay and Blauer Zweigelt alongside classic cuisine. The wine taverns really come into their own on a balmy summer's day when visitors can sit in the guest garden and soak up the views of the rows of vines and the city below.
Authentic Viennese Heuriger let the world know that they are open by attaching a sprig of fir to the sign outside and displaying a chalkboard with the word "Ausg'steckt" on it. The presence of each of these pointers also means that only wine produced by the grower at Viennese vineyards is on sale. Today's Buschenschank Law dates back to a piece of legislation laid down by Emperor Josef II in 1784 which gave Viennese vintners the right to sell their own produce from their premises. The word Heuriger also has a second meaning besides wine tavern - it denotes the current year's vintage, which is officially christened on St. Martin's Day (November 11). On this day the following year, what was the Heuriger vintage becomes Altwein.