Burgenland is unlike anywhere else in Austria. Whereas Austria is known for rugged Alps, pirouette-inducing meadows or the excitement of Vienna, Burgenland sits on the edge of Central Europe’s vast Pannonian plain.
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 Southeast. 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.
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 barbecue. 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 buildings. 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 many al fresco attractions including biking, horseback riding, bird watching, sailing, hiking and even classical music festivals.
The best part about Burgenland? It’s just an hour’s ride from Vienna.