If there is one thing certain about Gumpoldskirchen is that this medieval gem is not shy of itself. The town proudly declares itself to be the most famous wine town in Austria. Sounds outrageous, though, not without some solid background behind the statement. Situated between two popular tourist towns Mödling and Baden bei Wien, Gumpoldskirchen attracts big numbers of local visitors with good taste as well.
Gumpoldskirchen is located on the so-called thermal line (ger. Thermenregion), which produces unique climatic conditions for viticulture. As a matter of fact – like no other part of the world. To unravel the distinctiveness of Gumpoldskirchen, we must take a deeper understanding of its geographical location and the history of the long-standing traditions of wine cultivation in the region.
With all respect to the narrow beautiful valleys of Gumpoldskirchen, the town could be easily called one street village. All the important buildings could be found along it.
The Wiener Strasse (Vienna st.) leads slowly uphill, where at Shrannenplatz by the town hall, the street continues as Kirchengasse (Church st.). The latter one finishes the job at the very heart of the town – Kirchenplatz. This square is surrounded by most of the main attractions of Gumpoldskirchen, including the Castle of Teutonic Order, Parish Church of St. Michael, the Bergerhaus with Wine Tree Museum, and the old home of the local judges.
I imagine that the layout of the town probably never changed that much, and the top of the hill always was the most important part of the settlement. This is the place where the castle stands after all, but it hasn’t been like that all the time. Though the name of the town is linked with Gumpold of Passau (10th century), the settlement outages its current name and even the Castle, which was built by the Teutonic Order somewhere in the 11th or 12th century.
Prior to the order, the Romans inhabited the place, before them – the Celtic people and even they are outdated by even more ancient culture, dating as far as 6.500 BC. All of them had one thing in common – they all cultivated wine on the slopes of Eichkogel and the neighboring area.
The town is located to the east of Vienna Woods and to the south of Eichkogel. The location describes the beautiful landscape surrounding Gumpoldskirchen but it doesn’t explain why the town was built here in the first place. The dominant features of the local topography are directly linked to that reason.
Gumpoldskirchen is located on the Thermal Line, which is the rupture zone between the Vienna basin and Eastern Alps. To put it simply – this is where the Alps begin. Thanks to the shift of landscape, two different climate zones intersect directly, where Gumpoldskirchen and Eichkogel are located.
This geographical location has another very important feature affecting the taste of wine and that is due to the exceptional mineral richness of the soil. This is the Thermal line after all, with numerous natural hot mineral-rich hot baths throughout it.
All of this creates a basis for unique conditions to cultivate wine. Wines of fruit, acidity, and maturity grow in these lands like nowhere else. The people, who inhabited the area before understood this and to some extent – much more than most of us.
With rich viticulture, it is no surprise that Gumpoldskirchen established itself as a market town. Wandering around the narrow medieval streets of Gumpoldskirchen, one could almost hear merchants’ shouting echoes from the past. The whole rich scenery of the area could be best observed from the Calvary to the northwest of the town.
There are two things everybody must know before coming to Gumpoldskirchen – Zierfandler, and Rotgipfler. Both are white wines and are, almost, endemic to Gumpoldskirchen. Don’t even bother with other wines until you tasted these two – it is a total must for any vinophile.
This one is also referred to as “the late red”, though it doesn’t have much in common with red wines. It is because the grapes turn red on the sunny side at the very end of the season when they are fully ripe. Supposedly, Zierfandler reaches its highest quality as an old wine but I assure you that the rich taste of this fine white wine, with a pleasant acidity and a delicate bouquet, will leave nobody disappointed.
It is easy to mistake this wine for a red one because even its name suggests it, but just as Zierfandler – Rotgipfler is a white wine. It has a similar rich taste to Zierfandler, mixed between acidity, fruitiness, and even honey, but Rotgipfler goes easier down your throat than its counterpart.
Another unique taste of Gumpoldskirchen is Spätrot-Rotgipfler, which is a Cuvee made out of Zierfandler and Rotgipfler. Even though the origins of Zierfandler and Rotgipfler are not proven, Spätrot-Rotgipfler is in fact a unique product of Gumpoldskirchen.
Also, look out for wines named as “Königswein”, which is an Oscar-winning wine, given out in the late season for meeting the highest quality standards. In 2019 the winner was Spätrot-Rotgipfler variety wine made by Weinbau Proisl. For now, this fine wine could be tasted at Kirchenplatz.
Austrians know how to produce and appreciate their wine. It is even more so in the areas famous for viticulture like Thermenregion. From generation to generation winemakers have passed down the knowledge of the production of fine wines – endemic to this exceptional region. Throughout the year the citizens of Thermenregion organize various festivities, celebrating the cycle of their wine production.
The biggest concentration of those events is during the fifth Austrian season – the Lower Austrian Wine Autumn, from August to November, but it doesn’t apply only to that period. You can check the current cuisine and wine in events in Lower Austria here.
I rank Gumpoldskirchen and Thermeregion as one of the top destinations for wine hiking trips from Vienna. If you want to learn more about the fine wines produced along the thermal line and the history of viticulture in the region, I suggest getting a tour with a professional guide. The best one, which offers a tour including a visit to Gumpoldskirchen is listed below.
A true heuriger might work only a couple of weeks during the production season but they can be open as much as they want during the off-season, selling the previous year’s wine. If you want to experience an authentic heuriger experience – do it during the autumn or at least try wines, which are younger than a year old. Find more details on the Gumpoldskirchen heuriger calendar. Some notable heurigers of Gumpoldskirchen: