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Austria

Austria for Natural Wine and Food Lovers!!

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A queen of nature, a melting pot of culture, elegantly combining the heritage of the past with the boldness of the future, Austria is beautiful, diverse, and invigorating. If it's so attractive, it's because all the lovely surprises it offers are within easy traveling distance, all year round. You'll see, it's always a good time to visit Austria and experience its legendary hospitality...

Discover Austria's recommendations by Aleks Zecevic

 

 

Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria

 

The Historic and Cultural Center of Europe

Austria holds the dual distinction of being at the center of the Old Continent and the heir to a great history. As the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria embraced many cultures, traditions, and ethnic groups over the centuries. The former melting pot of Europe served as the intersection of some of the most significant trade routes. For this reason, many battles took place on its territory, but that all changed after 1955 when the country signed the law of permanent neutrality. Since then, Austria has been one of the most welcoming countries in Europe, if not the world, where one can safely travel and enjoy all the country has to offer.

The epicenter of it all is Vienna, where you would most likely land if traveling by plane. Home to over 2 million people, the capital city is so rich in history and culture that its center made the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001.

One can feel the cultural and aristocratic heritage simply by walking through the streets of Vienna. After all, it is home to baroque architecture, opera, and waltz. Here, famous composers Mozart, Strauss, and Liszt first performed their masterpieces. Beautiful architecture is evident in many neighborhoods. Wandering around town reveals well-preserved old buildings, churches, monuments, palaces, and other historic landmarks. Even the little alleyways will lure you in with their ornamentation.


Karlskirche, Austria
Karlskirche, Austria

 

From Stephansplatz, where you will see the stunning Stephansdom or St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to Karlsplatz and Karlskirche to Votivkirche, just visiting the many medieval, gothic, and baroque churches will leave you in awe. Then, exploring the Hofburg, Belvedere, and Schönbrun palaces, you will be taken aback by the city’s royal influences. Also, don’t miss the Volksgarten, especially in the spring, or walking along the Danube canal. As for museums, there are so many to visit. It is a city with more museums and theaters per square foot than cafés and restaurants. You would need a few days to take in the MuseumsQuartier. Albertina is another monumental museum to visit (including paintings and drawings by famous Austrian painters Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oscar Kokoschka), and then there are, of course, MAK (Museum of Applied Arts), the Jewish Museum, Kunst Haus (for photo exhibitions and works by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser), and many others.

About two hours south of Vienna, you will come to Graz, the second biggest city in Austria. It is the capital of Styria, and apparently, the happiest people live in Graz. In 2003, it was designated the Cultural Capital of Europe and became one of the “Cities of Design” according to UNESCO. The city is super close to some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world, which surge up on steep, green hills and, in most cases, provide divine views of the area.

Also, about two hours northwest of Vienna, you will find Linz, the third largest city and home to the country’s biggest port (although Austria is landlocked, both Linz and Vienna are big ports as they lie on the Danube). Visitors can enjoy the majesty of the medieval constructions, especially the Castle of Linz. A bit further, southwest of Linz, is Salzburg, the musical capital of Austria. Salzburg’s historical center is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List with its mesmerizing baroque appeal. It is where one of the largest untouched medieval castles in Europe is – the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Salzburg is also the hometown of Mozart. For many Austrians, this is the most beautiful town in the country. About one hour from Salzburg (and three and a half from Vienna) is the majestic town of Hallstatt, another UNESCO World Heritage site. This iconic landmark of Austria is on many screensavers, so you have definitely seen the photograph of a chapel on the bank of a lake surrounded by mountains.

As you can see, nothing is ever too far away in Austria. In a single day, you could be exploring Carinthian castles, biking around the scenic green hills of Styria, or skiing on one of many Alpine slopes in the west of the country. And 24 hours later, you could be strolling alongside the Danube in the scenic regions of Lower Austria.

 

Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck, Austria

 

A Big Bowl of Nature

You can't talk about Austria without mentioning the Alps (which cover 2/3 of the country), its snow-capped peaks, its skiing, and its cozy chalets! Innsbruck, the capital of the state of Tyrol, is a historical mountain town, the former capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and host to three Olympics. From there, you can visit many ski resorts, which isn’t surprising given that Austria is the home of modern skiing. The first manual was written in the country in the late 19th century, and Rudolph Lettner from Salzburg invented the first steel edge ski. Bad Gastein, Kitzbuhel, and Mayrhofen are among the most notable ski resorts. More generally, Austria is truly a country of nature. Lush green forests, crystal-clear lakes, high altitude trails, spectacular waterfalls, beautiful national parks... make up a fascinating, well-preserved landscape. It's a vast playground for lovers of nature in its wild state and those who enjoy outdoor activities, especially hiking and mountain biking. Take a trip to the Hohe Tauern National Park, famous for its unique ecosystem and the Krimml waterfalls, the highest in Europe. Or the Kalkalpen National Park, home to Austria's last great primeval forest. If you're with the family, you can also relax and enjoy water sports on one of the country's many lakes, such as Lake Neusiedl or Attersee.

 

The Famous Wiener Schnitzel
The Famous Wiener Schnitzel

 

Gastronomical Heritage and Viennese Cuisine

Austrian cuisine is most often associated with Viennese cuisine, but there are significant regional differences. Since Austria was the melting pot of many different cultures for centuries, its cuisine is very diverse. The Austrians were adventurous enough to explore new spices and ingredients, adapting the recipes to fit their taste. Allegedly, they were the first to introduce coffee to the rest of Europe as it arrived through the refugees of the Ottoman Empire. Speaking of Austrian cuisines and not mentioning Wiener Schnitzel would be a sin. The dish features boneless veal meat thinned with a mallet (escalope-style preparation) and fried with a coating of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, making it world-famous. Another local dish is goulash, a beef stew in many countries formerly under the Austrian crown. There's also Spätzle (which you can also find in Strasbourg!),

 

 

 



A Word From The Natural Wine Expert:

Aleks Zecevic

Aleks Zecevic

Aleks Zecevic

March 20th 2023

Aleksandar Zecevic, or Aleks, hails from Belgrade, Serbia. He grew up around a family table where love for wine was nurtured. After relocating to New York City for college, Aleks worked in various facets of the wine industry. Today, Aleks specializes in reviewing Austrian, German and Alsatian wines for Wine Enthusiast and is an avid supporter of eco-friendly agriculture. He also hosts the Vintners podcast.

At first glance, Austria, with its abundance of well-preserved castles, cathedrals, and old buildings, might seem stuck in the past. However, appearances can be deceiving. It is at the forefront of organic viticulture and natural winemaking, with over 20 percent of the total vineyard area certified organic (one can guess that this number is even larger since many small natural wineries opt not to get the certification).

Though a small country in size and influence on the world wine stage, Austria has become a dynamic wine-producing country. It claims to have a diverse assortment of high-quality wines in various styles from several grape varieties. Most Austrian wines still have plenty of value, adding to their appeal. 

In the early 2000s, Austrian vintners started exploring more natural wine production methods. The start was slow, but in the last decade, natural wine producers emerged. Unfortunately, most of them still must export much of their production. 

However, there is no shortage of shops, bars, and restaurants selling wine from these vintners in Vienna. Their bottles are even in coffee shops and bakeries. The capital of Austria might be one of the most exciting cities to drink natural wine at the moment, primarily because it thrives on the wines from its backyard.

Renowned chef Konstantin Filippou and his wife Manuela are early pioneers of the movement. They opened probably the very first bistro featuring primarily natural wine – O Boufés, right next door to Filippou’s two-Michelin-star restaurant, also packed with amazing wines from all over the world. Both places offer incredible food and wine experiences. While the bistro is more casual, offering an à la carte menu, the fine dining next door is better for the tasting menu experience. 

Shortly after them, places like MAST, the modern bistro of two sommelier friends Matthias Pitra and Steve Breitzke, followed suit, offering a stellar wine selection with many unicorn wines on the list. Japanese restaurant Mochi was also supporting the movement, as well as Das Loft wine bar, which has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city. And with them all was the fearless retailer Weinskandal, run by Moritz Herzog, who last year also opened R&Bar (RundBar).

 

R&Bar (RundBar), Vienna
R&Bar (RundBar), Vienna

 

Today, it is hard to choose where to go out in Vienna. In the summer, maybe my favorite spot for traditional Viennese cuisine and natural wine is Glacis Beisl. Well-priced comfort food pairs superbly with selections from Austria, Italy, and the Balkans, while owner Paul Bodner offers rare wines, even from older vintages.

A place of similar caliber would be Heunisch & Erben, where local food matches the local wines going back to the early 1990s. But also, the list features some gems from Piedmont and Burgundy. One should also not miss visiting Café Kandl, a new place with an innovative food menu, a beautiful interior, including the garden in the backyard, and an exemplary wine list.

Vegetarians and vegans will also be happy, as the city is generally friendly in that respect, but with restaurants like Tian and their bistro or Alma Gastrothèque, the natural wine selection at their favorite spots will be on point.

 

Alma Gastrothèque, Vienna
Alma Gastrothèque, Vienna

 

The city is in constant flux, and new places pop up all the time. So, make sure to check the Raisin app for updates. As for an insider tip, keep your eyes open for nineOfive, which will feature Neapolitan-style pizza and great wine.

Aside from bars, restaurants, and the aforementioned retailer, Weinskandal, places like Pub Klemo, Vinifero, Vinonudo, and the Wine Rebellion cover all your low-intervention wine needs. Also, check out Meinklang Hofladen, owned by the giant natural wine producer from Burgenland and a great biodynamic farm. Although this place seems to be a bakery and a farm shop at first glance, you can also get some food to stay or buy wine to go, including some selections from the U.S. as well.

Although Vienna is the epicenter of the movement, there are great places to discover in smaller towns less than an hour away in the wine regions. Some of the most prominent ones include the fine dining restaurant Esslokal, outside of Langenlois in Lower Austria, and the Taubenkobel restaurant in Burgenland. For more relaxed experiences, the renowned winery Gut Oggau has an amazing buschenschank (a tavern where local winemakers serve their new wine under a special license in alternating months during the growing season), which also features a small wine shop. If you’re already in Burgenland, don’t miss juicy wine and even juicier burgers from Neu Neusiedler, run by the former wine buyer of June in Brooklyn, NY, Lena Mattson. 

Werlitsch - Ewald Tscheppe
Werlitsch - Ewald Tscheppe

 

Finally, in Styria, approximately two and a half hours from Vienna towards the Slovenian border, you will find a wine institution – Die Weinbank. The restaurant will awe you with its wine list featuring back vintages from local natural wine heroes like Sepp Muster, Karl Schnabel, Ewald Tscheppe (Werlitsch), and more.

Undeniably, Austria has become a prime destination for natural wine lovers. The country is at the forefront of the movement, with new producers and hospitality destinations popping up regularly. Moreover, it carries the weight of neighboring countries, too, featuring wines from most of Eastern and Central Europe. It is fair to say that it is a great time to be drinking in Austria.

Discover all the natural wines in Austria

Amazing Wines in Austria

We currently have 28 wine shops listed in 29 cities in Austria. Natural wine is a key indicator of where to find local, seasonal, organic, quality, and responsible products for all consumers, who want good wine and food without chemicals.

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Natural wines at their best in Austria!

14 regions and 29 cities in Austria WHERE YOU’LL FIND NATURAL WINE & GREAT FOOD:

Cities ordered by regions:

No matter where you go in the world, this is your chance to discover the most exciting regions and cities where you'll find great venues serving natural wine and great food, make a pick!

5869 Europe

67 Austria