Vienna is the only metropolis in the world that cultivates wine within its city limits. Where best to enjoy the local harvest than at heurige, local wine taverns? What used to be a shack in a vineyard or a few tables by a wine press have now evolved into bobo wine estates with organic barbecues and fussy designer wine cellars serving nouvelle cuisine viennoise.
These days, Viennese heurige are shaking off their rustic image as tourist traps in disguise and venues for day-tripping retirees…
Good traditional heurige still exist though they are increasingly rare, while many deliberately court younger cosmopolitan Viennese who are no longer content with sour Grüne Veltliner wine and stale dark bread. Two driving forces behind the new popularity of the heurige culture are the next generation of ambitious young vintners and the renaissance of the beisl (Viennese restaurant) cuisine. Witness, for example, the revival of the Grinzing area, for years the ending point of tourist bus fleets, now boasting several gourmet restaurants as well as organic wine cultivation.
One of the greatest charms of heurige is the al fresco setting, be it on a green meadow overlooking the city or in a grapevine-trellised courtyard shaded by ancient chestnut trees. As such, summer is the perfect time to visit heurige, when balmy evenings under the stars could only be complemented by bottomless carafes of good wine.
The ultimate Viennese chill-out, if you will.