To the Heurigen
Where You Sample the New Wines in Good Companionship
Sitting with friends at a long table outside under the old trees, absorbed in conversation, you sample this year’s wine as a light breeze brushes your face; or perhaps you sit inside surrounded by folksy furniture, devouring some traditional hearty Austrian food. You’re relaxed and mellow; time seems to have lost its hold. That’s what the centuries old Heurigen tradition is all about.
Austria, and especially Vienna, has a long wine-growing tradition, going back to the Roman times, to 276 AD when the cultivation of grapes for wine was legalized. But it was in 1784 that the Viennese Heurigen were born, when Emperor Joseph II introduced a law permitting winegrowers to sell homegrown wine and simple food without a special restaurant license. These rapidly became centers of community life, and everyone spent time there, drinking and talking, and often singing. In fact, music was and remains an integral part of the Heurigen culture, traditionally one or two violins, a guitar, accordion, perhaps a zither and a clarinet, performing Viennese songs with a special brand ironic sentimentality known nowhere else.
Until the 1960s, it was not uncommon to bring your own food to the Heurigen, and sometimes even your own drink, for which you had to pay a fee, called Stoppelgeld.
Today, there are two kinds of Heurigen. Those that have the special wine restaurant license are only open a few weeks a year, in which they serve new wine, harvested after Nov. 11 of the last year – thus the name Heuriger, or "that which is current." These offer a self-service buffet of salads, bread spreads, roasts, cheese, and sausage. Heurigen with a restaurant license may stay open all year with a full restaurant menu as well as wine. Beer is not served at any traditional wine restaurant.
Drinks served at Heurigen include Schankweine (wine tapped from a barrel), Bouteillenwein (bottled wine), Sturm (fermenting grape juice), and Staubiger (almost fermented grape juice, which is bitter and has a high alcohol percentage). An important tradition is drinking the so-called Fluchtachterl, "one for the road", 1/8 liter wine at the bar before leaving.
There are 180 registered Heurigen in Vienna today, with the best found in Grinzing, Stammersdorf, Strebersdorf, Neustrift am Walde, Hagenbrunn, Nussdorf, Kahlenbergerdorf, Jedlersdorf, Bisamberg, and Düernstein.
Just a few kilometers North of Vienna, this Heuriger is an insider tip among wine lovers. One of seven in the village Hagenbrunn, this Heuriger surrounds a charming courtyard, and offers a bright cozy atmosphere. A ¼ liter wine from the barrel costs between € 1.60 and €1.80. 1/8 liter from the bottle costs between €1.50 and €2. Some of the wines offered are Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Welschriesling. Prices are cheap compared to other regions, and with just a few busses a day, it’s hard to get there without a car.
Buschenschank Hermann Salomon
Jul. 25- Aug. 22
(02262) 67 28 04
NEUSTIFT AM WALDE
Open all year around, this Heuriger is popular with poiticians and tourists. In the Huber family since the 1970s, the house itself dates back to 1683 and was restored according to the original plans of Prof. W. v. Hoesslin, a set designer at the Court Opera at that time.
Here, the ambiance is traditional in the best sense, and with mostly dark furniture and an open fire, very welcoming. Wines are more expensive than in Hagenbrunn: A ¼ liter wine from the barrel costs between €2.20 and €2.80, and 1/8 liter from the bottle between €2 and €2.40.
Group rates are available.
Weingut Fuhrgassl-Huber Ernst
and Gerti Huber
So, bank holidays 12:00-24:00
19., Neustift/Walde 68
(01) 1 440 14 05
ZUM 6ER SANDGASSE GRINZING
On a narrow street street in Grinzing, this Heuriger has a lot of flair. You enter through a dark wooden door framed by a pink wall, and enter a courtyard, overgrown with ivy and grapevines. Part of the garden is covered allowing you to sit outside even in the rain. The inside looks very folksy with dark furniture and dimmed light. You can also sit in a 14th Century Kellerstüberl (cellar pub), where the wine matures in the barrels. All wines from the winery Manfred Stix in Matzen.
"ZUM 6ER" Famliy Hirsch
Sa, Su, bank holidays 12:00-24:00
19., Sandgasse 6
(01) 320 14 55
At the bottom of the Bisamberg just outside Vienna, this family-owned Heuriger opened in 1959 and serves wine from organically grown grapes. The building itself is very modern, built on an open plane flooded with light from the many floor-to-ceiling windows, and from the outside terrace, you can walk directly into the vineyards. 0.75 liters wine from the bottle cost between €5.10 and €6.50. The traditional goose dishes, Gänslessen, are served from Oct. 25 to Nov. 2, and from Dec. 6 until Dec. 14.
Weinbau Familie Lackner
Aug. 15- Sept. 8
(02262) 749 82