Austria

Austria

45820
vineyard hectares
4
regions
4
subregions
0
wineries
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about this region

Austria’s vineyards, positioned amid rolling hills and valleys, are more than just components in the global wine production network. These vineyards represent a blend of tradition and innovation in the nation’s winemaking process. With a history extending back to the Roman Empire, Austria has diligently maintained its vine-covered landscapes, consistently producing wines that embody finesse, character, and spirit.

These wines, notably the prominent Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, mirror the nation's varied climate, offering unique acidity and aromas akin to the country's natural elements. Reds like the Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt contribute to a complex yet delightful wine narrative, reflecting the diverse landscapes of Austria.

Austria’s approach to winemaking also signifies a deep commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. This commitment ensures not only the production of high-quality wines but also the preservation of the nation's bountiful environment for future generations of wine enthusiasts. That is why, in 2015, a nationwide certification was launched, Sustainable Austria. Thanks to it, a large number of Austrian producers have already been certified, which demonstrates their commitment to wine sustainability.

In 2022, Austria documented the production of 2.3 million hectoliters of wine, marking a slight decrease of 5% from the previous year. Despite this contraction, the nation’s dedication to producing excellent and authentic wines remained unwavering.

The geographical and climatic diversity of Austria provides an ideal environment for growing various exquisite wine varieties. Regions like the Wachau Valley are renowned for their Grüner Veltliner vines, while areas in Burgenland are known for perfect ripening conditions for Blaufränkisch grapes.

Each of the Austria's wine regions contribute its unique flavors and aromas to the nation's wines. For instance, the terraced vineyards located in Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal are celebrated for their white wines’ notable minerality and precision. Conversely, the warmer environments of Burgenland facilitate the production of powerful and elegant reds with a complex palate profile.

Statistics show that Austria predominantly grows white wine, with these varieties covering 68% of the nation's vineyards. The popular Grüner Veltliner variety represents 32.5% of the total vine area, followed by the red Zweigelt variety at 13.7%. The Welschriesling variety holds the third position, covering 6.4% of the total vine area in the country.

Associations

Austria’s viticulture is celebrated for its diversity and commitment to quality, mirrored in the variety of grapes cultivated in its picturesque vineyards. Austrian vineyards present a visual symphony of vibrant green leaves and clusters of grapes ranging from deep purples to translucent greens, each variety with unique physical characteristics that contribute to the tableau of the nation's breathtaking wine regions.

  1. Grüner Veltliner: Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s most famous grape variety, thriving in the country’s diverse climatic conditions. Agriculturally, this variety is adaptable but flourishes best in deep loess soils. While it's not particularly sensitive to frost, Grüner Veltliner benefits from sites with good water supply, showing resilience under dry conditions but truly thriving in well-irrigated vineyards. It's an early to mid-ripening grape, making it suitable for various regions within Austria.
  2. Riesling: Riesling in Austria is typically cultivated in regions characterized by cooler climates. It prefers steep terraced vineyards found along the banks of the Danube River. The grape has high acidity and is late-ripening, requiring a longer growing season to fully develop its complex characteristics. Preferred soils for Riesling are weathered primary rock soils, which contribute to the grape's ability to produce wines with notable minerality and longevity.
  3. Zweigelt: Zweigelt is a red grape variety that is relatively easy to cultivate, being highly adaptable to different soil types. However, it particularly thrives in deep, loamy soils. This grape has moderate warmth requirements and is known for its early ripening, making it suitable for cooler climates as well. It is somewhat resistant to frost and diseases, making it a reliable variety for Austrian winemakers.
  4. Blaufränkisch: Blaufränkisch grapes flourish in areas with warm climates and require a longer ripening period. While being sensitive to frost, these grapes demand sites that provide sufficient warmth during the day and cooler nights, promoting balanced ripening. Soils rich in iron and minerals, particularly limestone, are ideal for cultivating Blaufränkisch, allowing the vines to draw sufficient nutrients for optimal growth and development.
  5. St. Laurent: St. Laurent is a variety known for its sensitivity and demands careful attention during cultivation. Preferring warm sites, it is early budding but late ripening, making it susceptible to spring frosts. Loamy and chalky soils are ideal for this variety, providing the necessary nutrients and water retention properties to support its growth. Despite its challenges, careful cultivation of St. Laurent yields rewarding results for Austrian vintners.

In addition, other grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc are also planted, although in a smaller amount.

Refer to the Austrian Wine Statistics 2021 report for in depth look of Austrian grape varieties.

Austrian wines stand out for their elegance, precision, and unmistakable character, that enchant wine lovers from all the world. Typically, the white wines from this enchanting country are recognized for their bright acidity, crystal-clear expression, and lean, refreshing body. Visual aspects range from pale straw to deeper gold, with clarity and brilliance as their unifying features. The reds, on the other hand, often offer a delicate balance between fruit-forwardness and structure, often with a vibrant ruby to deep garnet appearance that promises a delightful tasting experience.

  1. Grüner Veltliner Wines: Grüner Veltliner wines enchant with a lively bouquet of fresh green apple, white pepper, and delightful citrus notes, underpinned by a distinctive mineral edge. Often, connoisseurs may detect subtle hints of radish or arugula, lending a unique, spicy character to these wines. The aromatic profile of Grüner Veltliner is captivating and multifaceted, providing a tantalizing preview of the crisp, refreshing experience on the palate.
  2. Riesling Wines: Austrian Rieslings offer a nose that’s both intense and refined, characterized by aromas of ripe peaches, apricots, and sometimes tropical fruits like lychee. Often, these wines showcase a delightful floral undertone, with whispers of rose petals and elderflower. The flavor profile mirrors the aromatic intensity, presenting a delightful balance between fruitiness and vibrant acidity, with a subtle mineral finish.
  3. Zweigelt Wines: Zweigelt wines deliver a seductive aromatic profile, filled with notes of dark cherries, blackberries, and sometimes a touch of fresh violets. These red wines often reveal a hint of spicy pepper, giving them an additional layer of complexity and intrigue. The inviting nose of a Zweigelt promises a palate that is equally engaging and pleasantly fruit-forward.
  4. Blaufränkisch Wines: A glass of Blaufränkisch entices with its rich, dark fruit aromas. Expect to find blackberry, dark cherry, and plum dancing with subtle notes of black pepper and sometimes even a whisper of licorice. Its aromatic profile is deep and concentrated, hinting at the structured, yet smoothly textured tasting experience that follows.
  5. St. Laurent Wines: St. Laurent wines boast an alluring aromatic complexity, opening with scents of sour cherries, wild berries, and often a delicate touch of mocha or dark chocolate. Some variations might even offer a faint hint of earthy, herbal notes, creating a harmonious and layered aromatic symphony that makes each sip an exploration of its intricate profile.

History of the Region

Austrian viticulture boasts a rich history that dates back to around 700 BC during the Celtic period, indicating a longstanding tradition of vine cultivation in the region.

Celtic Beginnings (700 BC)

  • Ancient Vine Cultivation: The foundation of viticulture was laid during this time with the cultivation of vines in the region.
  • Early Viticultural Practices: The Celts engaged in primitive but effective forms of vine cultivation and wine production.

Roman Influence (1st Century AD)

  • Introduction of Advanced Techniques: With the arrival of the Romans, advanced viticultural techniques were introduced, enhancing the quality and quantity of wine production.
  • Establishment of Vineyards in Key Regions: The Romans initiated vine planting in areas now known as Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland.

Middle Ages Revival (8th–9th Century)

  • Monastic Viticulture: Christian monasteries played a pivotal role in reviving viticulture, turning vine cultivation and wine production into spiritual and economic activities.
  • Christian Monasteries’ Contribution: The vineyards established by the Cistercian and Benedictine orders continue to thrive.

Austro-Hungarian Empire Era (18th–19th Century)

  • Expansion and Recognition: This era marked a significant expansion and international acknowledgment for Austrian wines, celebrated for their quality.
  • Wines of Nobility and Imperial Events: Austrian wines were served to European nobility and featured at grand imperial events.

20th Century Challenges

  • Impact of World Wars: The industry faced substantial setbacks due to the World Wars, necessitating recovery and restructuring post-conflict.

Focus on Quantity (1950s–1960s)

  • Production Increase: There was an industry-wide shift towards prioritizing quantity over quality during this period.

1985 Wine Scandal

  • Adulteration Crisis: The scandal, involving wine adulteration with diethylene glycol, tarnished Austria's wine reputation temporarily but led to substantial positive changes.
  • Implementation of Strict Regulations: Strict wine regulations were implemented to restore the quality and reputation of Austrian wines.

Renaissance and Quality Revival (1990s–Early 2000s)

  • Renewed Focus on Quality and Sustainability: The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a renaissance in Austrian viticulture with an emphasis on quality, sustainability, and expression of terroir.
  • Embracing Tradition and Modernity: Winemakers combined traditional practices with modern technology to highlight the unique characteristics of each grape variety and region.

21st Century: Austrian Wine Today

  • International Acclaim and Recognition: Austrian wines are recognized internationally for their precision, elegance, and distinctive character.
  • Diversity of Flavors and Styles: The wines offer a variety of flavors and styles that reflect the country’s diverse climates and landscapes.
  • Commitment to Excellence and Innovation: The industry embodies centuries of tradition and knowledge, showcasing Austria's resilience and commitment to producing high-quality wines. Each wine region, from the vineyards along the Danube River to Burgenland, contributes to the nation's vibrant viticultural heritage.

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board deserves a lot of credit for changing the narrative around Austrian wine to be one of exceptional quality and value.

Regions and Subregions

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