Oh, Vienna, what have you done to the Weinwandertag?

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Saturday dawned with great promise. Sunshine, warm temperatures, and our excitement of spending the day wandering 11km across the vineyards, pausing for photos and Sturm and panoramic views of Vienna during one of our most anticipated activities of the year, the Wiener Weinwandertag. For two days Vienna’s vineyards are open for wandering, and numerous winemakers set up tiny huts along the routes, offering their varietals and usually typical heuriger snacks to enjoy with. The event is great fun. No, make that, was great fun.

Our walk began at Cobenzl; the plan being to walk one-half of the route in the morning, stop for lunch, then return to Cobenzl and walk the second-half of the route. Weingut Cobenzl has been doing their thing since the 13th century, and their setting high atop in the Vienna Woods is a destination unto itself.

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It was obvious when we arrived that the weingut has figured out how to cash in on that loveliness. The deposit for a wine glass was a whopping €5! (We decided that was to pay for the little deposit card that had to be returned with the glass for one’s refund. Terrible waste of resources.) Sleek stands offering chicy-mhicy versions of traditional Aufstriche (seasoned cream cheese spreads typically served on sliced brown bread) dotted the courtyard; and a small handful of infomercial stands offered products that seemed out of place on a vineyard hike.

At Cobenzl we collected our route map, and with it the first of three stamps needed to receive a charming little pin as a “reward” for completing at least half of the hike. Though we missed the 2015 Weinwandern, we have the previous years’ pins as treasured tokens.  Off we set…

The event had been touted on every one of my news feeds, and with Sunday’s forecast being cool and wet, Saturday seemed to be the preferred wandering day, and the trails at the narrow points were, so-to-speak, bumper to bumper. This is all well and good, but unfortunately the media hype given to the event resulted in gobs of people who did understand the event etiquette: walking next to one another and not respecting the need for single-file movement at times; the almost regular thwack from either a selfie-stick or from someone more engaged with their social media than with the trail; and, the worst offense, those walking and drinking!

One sits with their Sturm or wine and enjoys the views and time with friends. One does not walk and drink while talking, sloshing their beverage while flip-flopping past.

We reached our half-way point to discover that the genius event organizers had decided pins would no longer be given out. And on the 10th anniversary of the event!  Instead, we were invited to enter our names into a random drawing where we might perhaps get to take part in a cellar tour and tasting at…Weingut Cobenzl.  Probably with a group of sloshing walker-talkers, too.

Greatly disappointed at how commercialized this event has become, we sat for lunch at one of the local heurigers to consider the remainder of the hike. Backhendl, naturally. And Sturm.

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No surprise, but after having been bumped into, stepped onto, and sloshed upon for 5km, we had no interest in finishing the Weinwandern. Even if we had received pins.

Here’s to the Wien Weinwandern weekend we once knew and loved. Cheers!

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As a small reward for having walked at least half of the route, one could receive a small pin; and  we have pins for three of the previous four years. They