OVER VIENNA I AM MID-HIKE among the noble vines of Nussberg Hill, looking down on a darkened Danube and the rain-smeared skyline of the Austrian capital. Minutes earlier, the afternoon had been bright, hot, and scented with elderflower as I wandered, spellbound, among the vineyards that are stitched across Vienna’s suburban hillsides. These are not conventional vine plantings, mind you, but flourishing gardens where the grapes grow surrounded by dozens of plant species—grasses, flowers, herbs—and a buzzing ecosystem of bees, bugs, and birds

The look of it nicely reflects the novel approach to winemaking in Vienna, where some 400 working wine estates cover 640 hectares of the city outskirts. It’s quite relaxed. Often, the vignerons here aren’t sure precisely which grapes they’re tending. They prefer to let nature, weather, and chance play their vital roles. The city’s signature drop is the Wiener , or “mixed set,” a reference to the medley of grape varieties that goes into each bottle. It’s a field blend, meaning all fruit are harvested and crushed together on the same day from the same parcel of vineyard. (Blended wines, by

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