Austrian wine is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. In recent years, Austria has made some of the best wines in Eastern Europe and Europe more broadly. As a result, wine lovers worldwide are learning about Austrian wine regions and realizing that Austrian wines have something to offer everyone.
What separates Austrian wines from other wines is where the grapes are grown and the artisan wines from Austria’s wine regions.
What are the wine regions of Austria?
There are three main wine regions in Austria. They are Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) to the northeast, Burgenland to the east, and Steiermark in the southeast. The capital city of Vienna is sometimes considered a wine region since it has 621 ha of vineyards within the city limits.
What is the most popular wine from Austria?
The most popular wine from Austria is Grüner veltliner, with approximately 36% of all vineyards producing it. The second most popular wine is Zweigelt, with roughly 9% of all vineyards producing Zweigelt.
Are there vineyards in Austria?
Yes. Austria’s winegrowing area comprises 44.728 ha
Is Vienna a wine region?
Vienna is the only city in the world to have a vineyard in any commercial district and has a variety. From 1134 onward, the first grapes were planted and cultivated in Vienna.
Austria’s climates and how they affect winemaking
While Austria is a relatively large country, all wine production comes from the country’s eastern half. Eastern Austria has a moderate climate with moderately hot summers and the periodic cold winter. This allows for a steady and relatively long growing season in good vintages.
This climate allows for delicious wine with fresh acidity that’s balanced out by the flavor of ripe fruits.
Austria’s wine-producing area can be split into two main regions.
Colder climates that are located in the northern part of the region produce white wines and delicate, light-bodied reds. These regions’ weather is often affected by the Atlantic and the Alps.
Austria can still be affected by the Mediterranean. The warmer areas in the south are better suited for making fuller-bodied red wines.
Austrian winegrowing regions
Austria’s most famous city is Vienna in the northeast of Austria, and it sits right in the heart of the wine country.
There are three main wine-producing regions in Austria. They are Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), Burgenland, and Steiermark, with Wien (Vienna) being more known because it is in and around the city of Vienna. However, the total amount of wine produced in Vienna is relatively small.
NIEDERÖSTERREICH (LOWER AUSTRIA)
Niederösterreich is Austria’s biggest wine region.
An abundance of different wines are made in Niederösterreich, from local varieties to experimental international types
This region makes wines reminiscent of wines of the Rhine. The climate in this region leads to favorable growing conditions for Gruner Veltliner and Reisling wines.
it is a region known for transitioning from the Alps to the plains of Hungary. This leads to many different microbiomes, which are used to the advantage of the region’s vineyards.
Burgenland is known for its warmer climate because it is situated further to the south. It sits in the Pannonian basin of central Europe, leading to a different climate than Steiermark, located further to the south.
Becasue of the clime this region grows more red grapes than Niederösterreich. Burgenland is known for its Blaufraenkisch and Blauer Zweigelt red wines. The region also produces several dessert wines.
The southernmost Austrian wine region is Steiermark. It is known for producing weightier red wine. However, they still have that freshness and brilliance that comes with Austrian wine.
The soil in this part of Austria has a rich spiciness due to old volcanoes. Of all the regions in Austria, Steiermark has the longest growing season lending itself to creating crisp, aromatic, and full-bodied wines.
Vineyards around Vienna are often just there to showcase wines. The goal is to attract tourist wine lovers to come to their shows and spend some money.
However, there is good wine being produced in Vienna. Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot blanc are grown on limestone soils within the city limits. However, most of what is produced are young wines.
Austria’s key grape varieties
Austria has a handful of indigenous grape varieties. Around two-thirds of plantings are of white grapes and one-third of red. But it is Austria’s native grapes that make Austria such an interesting country for wine.
Because Grüner veltliner Austria is now beginning to be taken seriously as a wine-producing country.
You’ll find all the usual international varieties in Austria, but we’ll focus on the most important native grapes, as well as riesling, pinot blanc, and pinot noir.
Austria’s key white grape varieties
Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s most important grape variety by far. This up-and-coming white grape has been vital for getting Austria’s wine back to prominence
Like Sauvignon blanc, Grüner veltliner can reflect the soil it was grown in, with every Grüner possessing a unique taste. There are many reasons to be impressed by this grape making waves internationally.
Grüner can produce refreshing wines, along with impressive fine wines with great depth and structure, concentrated flavors, and a capacity for aging.
From Germany, riesling has been growing around the Danube river in Austria for centuries, and while it’s not a native grape to Austria, it certainly has made its presence known.
Austrian riesling tends to be dry. The best Austrian Rieslings have developed more depth and complexity with aging. They also often have high acidity and can improve in bottles for years.
Weissburgunder (pinot blanc)
Weissburgunder, or pinot blanc, is thought to have come to Austria from Burgundy in the 13th or 14th century.
Now mostly found in the Burgenland region, pinot blanc can get bland if yields are not regulated, but some of the best pinot blanc can have a refined and focused character.
While it sounds similar, Rotor veltliner is not related to grüner veltliner. Roter Veltliner is an old native Austrian variety that can produce attractive fresh, and simple-tasting wines.
Found mostly in the regions of Wagram, Kamptal, and Kremstal, it’s a temperamental grape to produce. It’s sensitive to frost during flowering and prone to rotting; this can lead to it being a harder wine to find.
Austria’s key red grape varieties
It’s worth knowing the major grape varietals that are made in Austrian wine regions.
Blaufränkisch makes up just 6.5% of Austria’s total plantings. So while it is known for being on of Austria’s top quality reds, its overall production is relatively small.
It’s a late-ripening red grape that’s best known for producing medium to full-bodied wines. Blaufränkisch wines generally have notes of black cherry, plum, allspice, and blackcurrant.
Zweigelt (blauer zweigelt)
Zweigelt is Austria’s most popular red grape varietal. Approximately 13.8% of the total land in Austrian wine regions is dedicated to growing these grape varieties.
It is known for being a fruitier medium-bodied wine. However, the high-end versions are often oak-aged and are more full-bodied.
Zweigelt has soft tannins making it easily approachable in its youth. So Zweigelt tends to be simpler and more fruit-forward wines.
Sankt Laurent (St Laurent)
St Laurent is the third most popular of Austria’s native red varietals. It has a small production area of just 1.6% of the country’s total plantings.
It’s part of the pinot family and makes a fragrant, red-fruit-scented, medium-bodied wine. But it still has plenty of acidities. It’s a temperamental wine, so it can be difficult to cultivate. So it takes a talented winemaker to handle this grape.
Pinot noir production in Austria is relatively new. But it’s showing great promise and is well-suited to the climate, and produces fresh, lifted, and focused pinots to that of the Burgundy region.
Pinot is a tricky grape to grow. It is known for being finicky and susceptible to diseases. So any producer who is growing Pinot noir has their work cut out for them, but there will be plenty of fans it they are up to the task.