With a wine-growing area roughly equal to a third of that of Bordeaux, Austria proudly boasts the exceptional quality of its wines. A mosaic of terroirs, meticulous work on unique grape varieties as well as environmentally friendly viticultural practices, these characteristics make the country of Mozart and Klimt a beloved reference among fine wine lovers.
Austria's wine heritage harks back more than two millennia, but it truly came into its own in the 19th century. A century later, a scandal shook the world of wine and, paradoxically, gave Austrian vineyards a whole new level of excellence that gave rise to the finest wines in Austria. Accused of adding forbidden additives to their wines to make them rounder and sweeter, the winegrowers and cooperatives were forced to change their production methods and many turned to nature-minded viticultural practices. Today, Austria is a reference in terms of organic and biodynamic viticulture.
The beautiful wine-growing landscapes in Austria are as varied as the style of the wines. In Lower Austria, the vineyards of Wachau run along the Danube, while in Burgenland they stretch across the plains. The vineyards of Styria are even located on hillsides at a high altitude. This variety of soils leads to a very complex geology influenced by clay, gneiss, schist, granite and loess. The climate is typically continental with hot summers and harsh winters. This richly diverse terroir offers fresh, dry white wines as well as more powerful, sweet white wines, and also very generous, masterful red wines.
Today, the reputation of Austria's great wines is well established: 9 of the 16 Austrian wine regions are classified as DAC, which is equivalent to the French AOP. Regarding the grape varieties, two-thirds of Austrian vineyards are devoted to white grape varieties. There are 26 different grape varieties dedicated to the production of quality white wines, including the exquisite Riesling, Saint Laurent, Chardonnay and the very famous Grüner Veltliner. The latter alone accounts for almost 30% of Austrian vineyards. Red wines however stem from 14 types of red grape varieties. Austria offers remarkable Zweigelt and is increasingly turning to the cultivation of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Styrian region, Schilcher, a unique rosé wine, completes the particularly rich and varied range of Austria's great wines.