In Austria, wine taverns are a cultural icon, where people come to eat, drink and listen to live music. Called heurigers or buschenschanks, these establishments have been around since the late 1700s when growers were granted the right to sell their own wine and homemade food. Wine taverns still have a presence in Austria’s viticultural zones—in fact, Vienna’s tavern customs were inscribed in the UNESCO index of intangible cultural heritage in 2019. Traditionally, only wines made in the current vintage by the winemaker that owned the tavern were served, and a bundle of pine twigs at the entrance would tell guests when a spot was open.
Vienna (Wien) is the world’s only capital that fosters significant viticulture within the city limits, and here taverns welcome any visitor looking for comfortable hospitality with a taste of local wine and cuisine. Nussberg, where several seasonal pop-up-style taverns are located, is one of the most picturesque spots in Vienna, a top vineyard overlooking the city. Opening times are often seasonal, so check ahead for travel convenience. Ausg’steckt means it’s open! While some taverns are less authentic than others, here are five unique spots that serve quality wine with traditional appeal.
Fritz Wieninger is perhaps the most wellknown vintner in Vienna, associated with the recent elevation of Wiener Gemischter Satz, a traditional wine often served in the taverns, a cofermented field blend that is entirely Viennese. Wieninger has two wine taverns, Heuriger Wieninger and Wieninger Buschenschank at Nussberg. Here guests can enjoy biodynamic wines and delicacies from local producers, including vegetarian options. Skin-fermented, naturally-made biodynamic wine from Hajszan Neumann, purchased by Wieninger in 2014, is also served here.
Weingut Walter Wien
For visitors who want to eat and drink in the vineyards, Weingut Walter offers an idyllic atmosphere. The effect embodies a sense of charming conviviality that the best wine taverns deliver. Traditional Austrian Brettljause cuisine is served, with hearty cold meats, pickled veggies, cheese, spreads and bread. Proprietor Norbert Walter is from the Alpine pastures of the Tyrol area, and these origins are reflected in the menu. Walter’s wines are certified organic and Fritz Wieninger, mentioned above, has a hand in the production of the wine.
Edlmoser Weingut & Heuriger
Located in Mauer, in the southwest of Vienna, Edlmoser is another spot to experience a dedicated range of Wiener Gemischter Satz as well as a generous offering of red wines, including a rare Syrah. While most of Vienna’s taverns are located in the northern reaches of the city, a visit to Edlmoser offers a different perspective. The tavern dates to the 1600s and is just a short walk from the vineyards. There’s an interesting connection with California—proprietor Michael Edlmoser previously worked with Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards.
Mayer Am Pfarrplatz
This is one of the most famous wine taverns in Vienna. Ludwig van Beethoven lived next door, and in the summer, the place fills up with guests by the hundreds. But don’t mistake size and notoriety for a lack of charm. Inside Mayer, there is a snug setting with traditional wooden tables, regular live music and a hot and cold buffet with seasonal Viennese specialties. Outside, there is a lovely shaded courtyard. Mayer also runs a buschenschank at Nussberg when the weather is pleasant.
Müllers Heuriger & Weingut and Stadtweingut Müller
Third-generation proprietor Johannes Müller takes pride in being an urban winery (stadtweingut) that combines contemporary and transparent methods with a nod to tradition. The authentic tavern in busy Grinzing, with a unique tiled stove, offers indoor and outdoor seating and is known for delicious food. In 1952 Müller’s grandfather Hans Schmidt bought the property and vineyard, and the former stable became the tavern and the orchard is now the garden. Müller also puts on a buschenschank at Nussberg during the summer season.
This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
Published on November 16, 2022