Published On: Sat, Jul 6th, 2024
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I visited the European city overlooked for its wines | Travel News | Travel

Buschenschank Windischbauer

I travelled to Vienna to visit a friend, but stumbled up the city’s hidden gems for wine lovers overlooked by more famous spots (Image: Supplied)

I’ve never been one to spend long summer days meandering through vineyards like a wine-infused nymph.

Indeed, despite my lack of sommelier knowledge, wine remains a mystery to me, yet I’ve grown to appreciate it.

Wine holidays and vineyard tours have seen a resurgence in popularity recently, with travellers flocking to destinations such as the Loire Valley, Provence and Tuscany.

However, I discovered a hidden gem that perfectly blends sophistication and rustic charm in the most unlikely of places – a must-visit for any wine enthusiast, reports the Liverpool Echo.

A good friend of mine relocated to Vienna last year, making Austria his new home after several years in the UK.

Buschenschank Windischbauer

The Nussberg offers stunning views across all of Vienna (Image: Supplied)

The capital is often recognised for its fervour for Christmas markets, a commitment that London could only aspire to.

However, on my return visit to Vienna at the end of June, the change in seasons meant swapping cosy layers and gluhwein for a Duke of Edinburgh-style hike to the city’s heurigers. A ‘heuriger’ can best be described as a ‘wine tavern’, offering locally produced wine, and a buffet of regional cuisine, all while seated on wooden outdoor furniture overlooking the city from the Nussberg hills.

Trusting my friend and reliable local guide, we embarked on our journey from the tram stop in Beethovenpark and ventured off the beaten path into the steep hills blanketed with lush vines.

Thankfully, our first stop at Buschenschank Windischbauer saved me from revealing just how out of shape I was. The wine, undoubtedly, would assist.

Nestled amidst the hills, a charming wooden shack stands surrounded by endless rows of vines. They boast both a natural and traditional vineyard, with our choice being the latter, offering a modest selection of their wines.

The menus are inscribed on a petite chalkboard, reflecting the current offerings. A bottle of Windischbauer (pinot blanc) will set you back just over ten euros, which feels like an absolute bargain.

The undulating hills and sweeping views of Vienna were an unexpected delight, proving the city’s appeal in all seasons. And the wine? It was simply delightful.

Buschenschank Windischbauer

Our first stop at Buschenschank Windischbauer was tucked away from prying eyes (Image: Supplied)

Austrian wine may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of exports from the country, but it certainly holds its own. Buschenschank Windischbauer is sufficiently distanced from the city to offer tranquillity, yet allows for the enjoyment of both the cosmopolitan city and countryside simultaneously.

The absence of crowds exploring the hills doesn’t detract from the buzz; instead, it offers space to breathe. Heurigers also serve a small assortment of local delicacies, many of which come with ‘spreads’, or flavoured cream cheeses (Liptauer).

Imagine Austrian charcuterie boards laden with meats, cheeses and freshly baked bread.

In contrast, Wieninger am Nussberg seemed to be a much livelier hub. Positioned slightly higher than our first stop, it offered an even more extensive view of Vienna and its surroundings.

By the time mid-afternoon rolled around, I was already feeling the heat, so we sought refuge in the shade near the tavern. However, there were plenty of spots reminiscent of a beer garden for those who wanted to soak up the sun.

On this occasion, we chose a bottle of Wiener Gruner Veltliner, a dry and crisp wine that tantalised our taste buds with its sweet undertones.

Wieninger am Nussberg had an extensive selection of wines to cater to all palates. But for someone like me, who doesn’t have a particularly refined nose, the Wiener Gruner Veltliner is a reliable Austrian classic. If you’re looking to get a real taste of Viennese wines, this is an excellent place to start.

As someone who prides themselves on their love of food, the lack of descriptions on the menu added an element of mystery. I had no idea what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised by what was served.

My friend and I decided to share a Winzerplatte (charcuterie board) between us. It consisted of Tyrolean-style bread with ‘bacon’ and horseradish, four unspecified but delicious cheeses, paprika-infused Liptauer, pumpkin seeds, a small dark baguette (Rebstockl by Muller Gartner), and a traditional potato salad – but not as we know it.

Wieninger am Nussberg

When in Vienna, drink wine and eat as the Viennese do at Wieninger am Nussberg (Image: Supplied)

Mayer am Nussberg

Mayer am Nussberg was the perfection location for watching the Austrian sunset (Image: Supplied)

The simplicity of the dish proved that you only need a handful of high-quality ingredients to create a feast fit for royalty.

The joy of summer is encapsulated in the chatter over chilled wine, a reminder of how our lives have evolved over nearly a decade of friendship. From the south coast of the UK to the vibrant cities of London and Vienna, we’ve transitioned from snakebites to sophisticated vineyard adventures.

My day reached its peak when we arrived at our final destination – Mayer am Nussberg – boasting views so breathtaking I was reluctant to leave. I had discovered my happy place high up in the mountains.

The slopes were adorned with makeshift benches crafted from crates, with a sandbox for children conveniently placed in the centre. However, we chose one of the many romantic deck chairs offering an overlook of the mountains, reminiscent of a seaside setting at high altitude.

The buschenschank resembled a large shed, complete with a rustic kitchen serving boards, breads, and sweet treats. The tranquillity I experienced while gazing at the rolling hills and sipping glasses of Gruner Veltliner was unparalleled. Up there, the rest of the world seemed insignificant.

Equipped with The Nussberg Classic board (featuring smoked Emmerberger raw ham, farmer’s salami, sliced bacon, farmer’s cheese, pepperoni, farmer’s bread and homemade crispy mustard) and the Mayer’s Spread Board (comprising cream cheese herbs, legendary Liptauer, lard), we feasted like Greek Olympians. Each sip and bite introduced a new flavour combination; the salty tang of the lard paired with sharp cheese, or fresh herb spread on hearty bread.

I’ve yet to visit the renowned wine valleys of France, Italy or Spain, but I’m in no rush. The unpretentious charm of Vienna’s heurigers provides a rich experience without the ostentation often associated with their more famous counterparts.

If you’re seeking an unconventional experience, away from throngs of tourists, and fancy a delightful glass of wine with your closest companion, Vienna should be on your radar. Its wine taverns, regardless of their size, guarantee a memorable time.

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