Vienna is the only major capital city in the world with significant wine production nearby. The vines still extend, however, into parts of the city itself, as they have done for hundreds of years.
Viticulture in Vienna is as old as Vienna itself - the Celtic settlement of Vedunia, and later the Roman garrison of Vindobona both cultivated grapes. The earliest named vineyards were documented in 1132, and by the late middle ages, all city districts had their own vineyards.
Viennese Heurigen culture, which so dominates Viennese wine to this day, was made possible by Emperor Josef II, who in 1784 passed a law allowing wine growers to sell their wine alongside home-made food. Viennese will often on a nice day take the tram out to go for lunch in a Heuriger, ideally one attached to a winery in a vineyard district. If you are visiting Vienna for business or tourism, take the time to do the same.
Today in and around Vienna are some 680 hectares of vines. The geological diversity is unique, ranging from alluvial, glacial gravels on shell interspersed with limestone weathering to loess and shale beds.
Best areas are Heiligenstadt, Nussdorf, Sievering, Grinzing and around the Bisamberg hills.
This great wealth of diverse soils and layers also explains the traditionally large species diversity.
The main varieties are Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of the wine is destined for the city's heurigen and is intended to be drunk young. Sales of higher quality bottled wine are however increasing and some exceptional wines are being made.
A Gemischter Satz is a wine made from a variety of grapes but it is not just a blend or a cuvée. Up to 15 different grape varieties are planted in the same vineyard and harvested and pressed together.
Originally, growers used the varying degrees of ripeness and acidity as a way to ensure consistent quality and guard against the risk of poor harvests. With modern knowledge and skills, quality was no longer a concern and the focus switched to single varietals and big cuvées, hence Gemischter Satz fell out of favour at the end of the 20th century. Recently however, Austrians have increasingly been rediscovering these wines as, in the right hands, and these is a perfect example, they are a unique and distinctive expression of terroir.