WHAT an incredibly beautiful place, especially in autumn: The vineyards of the legendary Vienna Woods, the Wienerwald! Just look at these pictures I took on this weekend’s walk through the Viennese vineyards. We were having a glass of new wine in a sublime fall setting at the Heuriger Wailand 1 on the Kahlenberg Hill. Overlooking Nussberg hill, the panoramic view of the city and the Danube river are simply gorgeous. And it’s only a few bus stops away from the city center!
Sigmund Freud also loved to hike and wander around in the Vienna Woods on weekends. The whole family dressed up in traditional Austrian garb and set out foraging for mushrooms. But as Martha, Freud’s wife, didn’t trust her husband’s skills in differentiating poisonous from edible mushrooms, she would rather buy her mushrooms at the market.2
Although my family and I didn’t find any mushrooms, we saw white and red grapes waiting to be picked. Since they had plenty of sun, they were very sweet.
Eventually, in the midst of all this peaceful beauty, you’ll pass by a few tavern-like establishments filled with locals drinking, laughing and maybe even singing. These Viennese institutions are called Heurigen, meaning “new wine.” It’s where the winemakers serve the current year’s wine accompanied by different simple snacks like cabanossi, blood sausages, speck, Liptauer, and the like. In some places, there’s even folk music.3
More importantly, the Heurigen stand for the concept of Gemütlichkeit, a state of well-being, belonging, and social acceptance. Since to some, this often nationalistic glorifications of the past sound rather scary, a few young, modern, more cosmopolitan Heurigen have sprung up in the last decades. The lovely Heuriger Wailand is one of them. These places reclaim the concept of Heimat, the German word denoting the relation of a human being toward a certain spatial social unit.
Famous Austro-Hungarian writer Ödön von Horvath’s wrote a popular 1931 play, that cruelly unmasks the hypocrisy of the clichés of the Viennese Gemütlichkeit. It should come as no surprise that it bears no other title than Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald, or Tales from the Vienna Woods.
Therefore, choose your Heuriger wisely and don’t miss out on this charming scenery. As for me, if you haven’t guessed already, I love the Vienna Woods vineyards at Kahlenberg hill. It is indeed on my short list of best spots on this planet. Yes, that’s how stunning I think it can get there, when the Heuriger, the time, and the weather are right. Share this moment with people you love, and you’re in heaven.
It’s Easy to Get There:
Take the subway U4 to Heiligenstadt, get on the 38A bus to Kahlenberg, and there you are! Next, don’t waste too much time on the terrace and the panoramic view of Vienna. Start with the walk downhill, following the signs of hiking path #1 (Stadtwanderweg #1), to get eye level with the hilly vineyards overlooking Vienna and the Danube river. After a walk of about only fifteen minutes, you’ll reach the first in a series of Heurigen.
Alternatively, if you are too tired, or simply do not want to walk, take the tramway D till its final stop in Grinzing, where there is a little train that brings you up to all the Heurigen. This train is called the “Heurigen Express.” Or take your car, if you must, just don’t drink and drive.
Heuriger Weingut Wailand
Kahlenberger Straße/ Corner Eisernenhandgasse/ H.-W.-Schimankoweg
1190 Wien (Austria)
Open from April to October
on Google maps (From the bus, via Heuriger Wailand, till the tramway stop.)
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- This is no paid endorsement or advertisement! Accordingly, I do not get paid to say that Heuriger Wailand is a beautiful spot even though I wish I could!
- And the only arguments the Freuds reportedly ever had was a culinary one, related to mushrooms. Both had strong opinions on whether one should cook porcini mushrooms with or without stems. (See Zu Tisch bei Sigmund Freud, by Katja Behling-Fischer – At Sigmund Freud’s Table: Lifestyle, Hospitality and Eating Habits of the Founder of Psychoanalysis.)
- The Heuriger has its own genre of music, the famous Schrammelmusik, a style of Viennese folk music, and the Wienerlied genre, literally “Viennese song.” Most noteworthy is the fantastic reinterpretation made by André Heller and Helmut Qualtinger. But to understand the lyrics, quite good Viennese German skills are a prerequisite!