Global Traveler|June 2019
Even with its legendary laid-back coffeehouse culture, distinguished concert performances and celebrated balls, a lot of work gets done in Vienna.
With its status as a federal state and the country’s political, economic and cultural epicenter, this riverside metropolis attracts leisure seekers, those in search of a healthy lifestyle and big business — all drawn by a combination of factors that include a skilled and educated workforce, a high standard of living and access to both cultural- and nature-based activities. Worth noting: Green space comprises nearly half of the busy city’s surface.
The newly released Mercer Quality of Living survey ranking the best places to live just named Vienna first yet again, marking its position as the topmost desirable city for the 10th year in a row. And those quality-of-life factors mentioned above aren’t just a collection of attributes valued by locals; they also draw business. Vienna serves as a prime gateway to Central and Eastern European markets. Today more than 200 multinational corporations operate headquarters here, with major employers including ATelekom Austria, ÖBB Holding AG, Heineken C&EE, Siemens Group Austria, OMV AG, A-Tec Industries AG and PORR Group.
For travelers, the city’s legacy of music and the host of legendary composers who called it home may comprise the most familiar elements, but another layer of life in Vienna embraces nature. This includes a unique position as a wine-producing region within a major urban center, with 1,512 rolling acres and 155 wineries located within the city limits.
“The local wine industry actually predates the city’s history,” offers Viennese winemaker Rainer Christ, the latest generation in a family of winemakers extending back 400 years, well in keeping with Vienna’s historical setting. “When the Romans arrived around 2,000 years ago, there was already grape cultivation taking place.”
Today’s vines are largely grown on and around the sloping hillsides banking the Danube, and this wine heritage is protected by a stipulation that vineyards found within the city limits must be cultivated, offering a safeguard against real estate development of these enviable areas. The principal grape, says Christ, is Gemischter Satz, adding it takes about 62 acres of vineyards to produce approximately 120,000 bottles of wine. When conditions are right, about once per decade, the region experiences a late-enough harvest for sweet wine production.
Studies, of course, have shown not only does wine contain polyphenols that may (in moderation) support health, but also that a thoughtful glass of wine shared over a meal with friends or family is often part of a larger lifestyle profile that embraces an operating philosophy of valuing health and well-being. Like-minded visitors will be happy to know tradition and wine culture are alive and well throughout the city, often taking the delightful form of a Viennese heuriger, or wine tavern.
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