Prior to our trip, we called the bank to let them know which countries they might anticipate seeing charges from and the representative had never heard of Liechtenstein. It is, after all, quite small. Comprised of only 62 square miles, the country is about the size of Washington, DC. Small and landlocked, the monarchy lies in the Rhein Valley between Austria and Switzerland. Oh, and by the way, the principality happens to be a wine-producing nation.
Of course, there is no reason why Liechtenstein should not produce wine. Both neighboring countries do and, as it happens, the mountain valley is well suited to viticulture. In total, there are 100 wine growers, but I am aware of only four that can be easily visited. No less a personage than the ruling prince himself owns one of them. Prince Johann Adam I acquired the vineyards as early as 1712 and they have been passed down to reigning Prince Hans-Adam II.
It is within the city limits of the capital city, Vaduz, that you will find the Hofkellerei des Fürsten von Liechtenstein. Indeed, Vaduz is one of the few capital cities in the world with producing vineyards. Grapes grow next to the Hofkellerei and there are several blocks tucked away in the surrounding neighborhoods. Local wine authority Manuel Reinisch pointed out that primarily Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a small amount of Syrah are grown in those Vaduz vineyards.
The Hofkellerei’s tasting room is as lovely a wine space as you will find anywhere in the world. A pair of well-appointed private tasting spaces are tucked away off of the main commercial area. Dinning in the Hofkellerei’s elegant restaurant might also be factored into a visit.
Tastings for large groups can be scheduled in advance, but individual visitors must simply walk in. The simple tasting includes three wines. If there are no large groups scheduled, it is possible to arrange a more formal tour.
When purchasing wine, be aware that primarily the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are true “Liechtenstein” wines. Reinisch explained that the Prince owns property in Niederösterreich and the majority of the wines retailing at the Hofkellerei are produced and bottled in that Austrian region. The House of Liechtenstein, as it turns out, has owned the 105 acre Austrian vineyard since 1436.
Regardless of origin, the wines of the Hofkellerei are all excellent and praiseworthy. The wines are unlikely to be found outside Liechtenstein, so it is a singular experience and a must-stop destination for any aspiring wine tourist.
While planning your trip, also take note that Vaduz is a small, modern city. Swiss Francs are the local currency, but Euros and credit cards are accepted. So take time to wander the streets, relax for a drink at one of the numerous cafes and take a side trip to the Princes’s castle, which overlooks the city from the steep slopes of the adjacent mountain.
Special thanks to Manuel Reinisch of Movenpick Wein in Vaduz for providing insights into the wines of Liechtenstein.
Planning Your Trip
Liechtenstein Tourist Information Center
Address: Städtle 39, 9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Hours: Mon-Sun 9AM to 5PM
Phone: +423 239 63 63