The vineyards in Austria have had an influence on Austrian culture for over 2,000 years. Although it is a very small cultivated area of about 50,000 hectares, it yields an astonishing variety of world popular quality wines, mainly due to the excellent climate. The continental Pannonian climate in Austria bears cold winters and hot and dry summers with cool nights. The soils vary from granitic quality in the Kremstal and in the Wachau, loess soil in the Weinviertel and the Danube valley, chalky soil in the Thermenregion to slate, loam, marl, loess and sandy soil in the Burgenland. Most of the vineyards lie in the eastern and the southern part of the country. 70% of all cultivated vines are white vines, 30% are reds.
There are four different regions in Austria that grow vine, firstly the Weinland Österreich comprising Lower Austria and the Burgenland, secondly, the Steirerland, thirdly, Vienna, and lastly, the Austrian mountain regions comprising the provinces Upper Austria, Salzburg, Carinthia, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. These regions are subdivided into 18 smaller ones, namely Wachau, Kremstal, Kamptal, Traisental, Wagram, Weinviertel, Carnuntum, Thermenregion, Neusiedlersee, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Mittelburgenland, Südburgenland, Vienna, Südoststeiermark, Südsteiermark, Western Steiermark, Leithaberg and Eisenberg.
Thanks to the combination of ideal climatic and geological conditions, wines with a very unique character can be produced that reach from fizzy monumental whites to charming, fruity, full-bodied and durable reds.
The sweet and the sparkling wines also count to the best worldwide. The Austrian wine is an excellent culinary accompaniment and is, moreover, exceedingly appetizing.
Since 2003 there are regional quality wines, the so-called DAC-wines (Districtus Austriae Controllatus). In addition to the DAC-wines, there are other local labels for quality marking, such as Heuriger, Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd which, however, are not legally fixed. The wine law is distinguished internationally between the Germanic (Germany and Austria) and Romanic (Italy, Spain and France) wine law. The focus of the Germanic wine law is on the variety denomination, whereas the Romanic wine law distinguishes wine according to the country of origin.
The Austrian wine law subdivides wines into three quality classes which are table wines (table or dinner wines, and superior table wines), quality wines (quality wines and Kabinetts) and special quality wines (Spätlese, Auslese, Eiswein, straw wine, Beerenauslese, Ausbruch and Trockenbeerenauslese).
22 white and 13 red grape varieties are admitted for production in Austria.
Among the white grapes are: Bouvier, Chardonnay, Frühroter Veltliner, Furmint, Muskateller, Traminer, Goldburger, Grauburgunder, Sylvaner, Grüner Veltliner, Jubiläumsrebe, Muskat-Ottonel, Neuburger, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Rotgipfler, Roter Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Scheurebe, Weißburgunder, Welschriesling and Zierfandler
Among the red grapes are: Blauburger, Blauburgunder, Blauer Portugieser, Blauer Wildbacher, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Ráthay, Roesler, St. Laurent, Syrah and Zweigelt.