Austria's Eastern Edge
While Austria’s wine experience begins in Vienna, it certainly doesn’t end there. In fact, hop in a car and take a road trip towards the south east. If this is your first out-of-Vienna excursion, you might expect to encounter mountainous vistas. Surprisingly, the horizon stretches out towards infinity. Then, inexplicably, it appears as if you’ve arrived upon the shores of a great sea. Welcome to Neusiedlersee (Lake Neusiedl) in the state of Burgenland, the eastern edge of Austria.
To lovers of dessert wine, the lakeside vineyards are nirvana. This shallow steppe lake moderates the otherwise extreme climate, and creates the magical, misty conditions necessary for noble red. Sweet wine has been the traditional calling card for many Burgenland vintners. Burgenland’s next generation of wine makers now offers intense, spicy reds made from grape varietals unique to Austria. If sweet wine isn’t your bag, uncork a bottle of Blaufränkisch next to a plate of barbecued meat. The next thing you know, you’ll dial up your favorite rib joint and beg them to stock some of your beloved Blau-Frank.
Burgenland presents its wine in haute style. Many local wineries have commissioned Austria’s talented architects to create fabulous architectural highlights. This movement, descriptively referred to as WineArchitecture, makes touring Burgenland like strolling through a design gallery. There are steel-skinned additions perched atop ancient cellars, glass-walled tasting rooms and dramatically angled structures jutting out from gentle hillsides. In tandem with this outdoor gallery, there are plenty of al fresco attractions including biking, horseback riding, bird watching, sailing, hiking and even classical music festivals, such as the Haydn Festival in Eisendstadt.
The best part about Burgenland? It’s just an hour’s journey from Vienna.