Austria's oldest winery marks 900 years
Travel north of Vienna, and you enter the scenic state of Lower Austria. Passing apple, apricot, and pear orchards, you reach the oldest and largest winery in the country - the Klosterneuburg monastery.
As the legend goes, the monastery was built on the site where the bridal veil of Agnes, the beloved of Leopold III, Margrave of Austria, landed after being blown by a gust of wind.
This year, the monastery, located a 20 minute drive from Vienna's city centre, celebrates its 900th jubilee.
Besides stealing a glimpse of the famous veil - which still exists and is kept in the monastery's treasury - you can join a tour, experience concerts and religious activities, as well as taste a variety of wines.
Among the current activities offered by the Klosterneuburg monastery is the historical exhibition Kreuz, Ring & Infel, that shows personal objects and reveals anecdotes of the 66 Provosts who headed the monastery for the last nine centuries.
Visitors can also enjoy the guided tour Hier und Jetzt and discover interventions and art works installed on the grounds specially for the jubilee.
Given daily, the tours are in German and groups of 10 to 15 people can already book them online. But if understanding German is an issue for you, audioguides are available in 14 different languages and an English app developed by the Lower Austrian start-up beyondarts is available for both iOS and Android smartphones and has detailed information on the main sites of the monastery.
Winery. Photo: Digruber, Klosterneuburg Stift.
Another great tip is to stop at the winery and taste the Jubiläumscuvée, a mixture of St. Laurent, Zweigelt and Merlot aged for 20 months in oak barrels. But you needn't be restricted to reds. Dominated by sandy soils, the slopes of Klosterneuburg make it possible to cultivate a variety of grapes and you will find plenty of the beloved Austrian Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc bottles in the cellars.
The Klosterneuburg Monastery runs the oldest wine-growing estate in Austria. It has been making wines since the monastery was founded in 1114 and operates with 100 hectares of vineyards located in Klosterneuburg, Vienna and the Thermenregion.
Festival dates for your diary
The Klosterneuburg monastery is worth a visit any time of the year, but, if you are lucky to be in Vienna in June, consider dropping by on Sunday the 15th. A myriad of activities are planned for the Stiftsfest, taking place from 11:00 to 18:00. After a celebratory mass, visitors will have the chance to hear the performance of the Bergen's Children Choir as well as other acts - varying from classical music to jazz and pop. A blessing, the symbolic placement of a cornerstone and a parade through the streets of the Klosterneuburg village are also part of the program.
During the Stiftsfest, it will also be cheaper to join a guided tour. A single €14 ticket will grant you access to all of the six long-standing tours - Treasury, Emperor's Chambers, Altar and Sacristies, Museums, Gardens and Wine Cellars - plus the two jubilee specials - Kreuz, Ring & Infel and Hier und Jetzt.
Can't be there in June? There is another chance to experience the monastery in celebration mode on August 30th. A wine tasting beginning at 14:00 will delight and guide visitors through 900 years of grape culture and wine production. Wines from the Klosterneuburg monastery itself will be served alongside renowned and local Austrian brands.
For those unable to travel to Lower Austria, the monastery offers the convenience of an online shop. Customers can choose from a selection of rose, red, white and sparkling wines as well as liquors and religious souvenirs.