Although you wouldn’t necessarily associate Vienna with wine (or “Wein” and “Wien” in German), it is amazing how much wine this part of Austria produces. As a result, Vienna has a day known as the Vienna Wine Hiking Day (Wiener Weinwandertag). I had the opportunity to do the Vienna Wine Hiking Day when I went there for one of my ERASMUS semesters (study abroad) during my master’s programme.
The Vienna Wine Hiking Day is actually 2 days: Saturday and Sunday. It takes place at the end of September or the beginning of October. When I did it (2017), it was the 30 September and 1 October. In 2021 it was 29 and 30 September and in 2022 it will most likely be 24 and 25 September.
Vienna boasts approximately 700 hectares of vineyards and there are nearly 140 different vintners to the north-northwest of the city centre. The Vienna Wine Hiking Day is an opportunity for them to show their wares and hook new customers! But what does it mean for a person doing this Weinwandertag?
The concept is simple. Do you like hiking/cross-country walking and wine? Then this is perfect for you. There are several different routes or legs that you can take. Every 500 metres or so there is a new station run by a different vintner. There you can purchase food, a glass of wine and enjoy the usually wonderful weather.
But what kind of wine can you get? The answer is just about anything. Typically a drier white wine is the speciality of the wine grown in Vienna. However there are also locally grown reds and rosés available. But that’s not all! There is also another type of drink that is served.
Young wine at the Vienna Wine Hiking Day
“Young wine” or “new wine” is also available, which goes by the names Federweißer (feather white), Federrotter (feather red), Neuer Wein, Bitzler or (specifically for Austria) Sturm (storm/tempest). This delicious drink has not fully matured, meaning that it has not completely fermented. Just like wine the grape must is used. Rather than ageing, filtering and bottling once the fermentation process is complete (like wine), but wine is bottled without being filtered or aged. As a result, these leaves it somewhat cloudy. This is where the “Feder” part of Federweißer (made with white grape must) and Federrotter (made with red grape must) comes from.
Because the fermentation process has not finished, the young wine is sweeter than its finished sibling. Especially if you don’t like dry wines, this is a great option. You can also buy it in supermarkets around this time as well. Just be careful! Because the yeast is still in the bottle, it has to have a porous top as the pressure is still changing. Don’t lie these bottles down on the conveyor or all the young wine will come out through the top!
If you are not a fan of these wines, that’s ok! The stations also have other options. There is usually a sweet white wine available for those who don’t like drier wines. If you want to do the hiking without alcohol, there are also non-alcoholic drinks such as juices and sodas. Something for everyone!
I moved to Vienna in the middle of September and this was the first real event that I had done with other Erasmus students. I ended up meeting a group of students, most of whom I became good friends with during my time in Vienna. We had an amazing time!
It probably goes without saying but make sure to take money with you. The glasses of wine vary in price depending on the vintner/station, but they are typically €2 or €3 for a glass. Warning: there is a concept called “Pfand” you should know about. It is a security deposit on the glass. You receive an actual wine glass for every glass of wine. You usually pay an extra €2 for this, which you get back when you hand the glass back into the station. In reality this isn’t something that you pay necessarily but you should always have €2 reserved for the Pfand.
Worried about drinking on an empty stomach? Don’t be! There are food vendors as well at many of the stations, selling everything from local seasonal delicacies to pizza. You’ll find something to enjoy!
Another reason to go on the hike is the views. This area sits slightly higher than Vienna, meaning you get some great views of the city, the vineyards and the surrounding area. For me it was a great introduction to the city. You can get out of the city for a while but be able to enjoy the views from afar.
Let’s say you like wine but the hiking may be a bit much. After all, the complete hike is around 30 km! If that is too much for you (or you don’t pace yourself), it is possible to only do sections of it. The official webpage for Vienna has created 4 sections that you can do instead. You can see those sections here.
So the final question is: is it worth it? My response can only be an emphatic yes!
Want to do some more exploring? Let’s go Travelling the World together =)