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Description to Austria

The Federal Republic of Austria in Central Europe with its capital Vienna covers 83,883 km² and is divided into nine federal states. The neighbouring countries are Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. More than 70% of the region is mountainous. Viticulture is concentrated in the east of the country, where all the wine-growing regions defined as DAC are located. One speciality is Vienna, the only capital city in the world where quality viticulture is practised on a large scale.

Österreich - Landkarte


Viticulture has been practised in Austria since the Celts settled here almost 3,000 years ago. The Burgenland municipality of Zagersdorf and the Lower Austrian municipality of Stillfried in the Weinviertel are considered to be the oldest wine-growing communities in Austria. Grape seeds dating back to 700 and 900 BC respectively were found in both places and can be clearly attributed to the European grape species Vitis vinifera. The lifting of the ban on planting vines outside Italy by Emperor Domitian (51-96) by Emperor Probus (232-282) had a positive effect on viticulture. This marked the beginning of an organised viticultural culture in the Roman provinces of Noricum (Upper Austria and Lower Austria) and Pannonia (Burgenland). During the almost 200 years of turmoil caused by the migration of peoples from the end of the fourth century onwards, viticulture almost came to a standstill due to the many devastations.

Middle Ages

A revival of widespread viticulture did not take place again until the 9th century under the great influence of Emperor Charlemagne (742-814). The Catholic orders of the Benedictines and Cistercians can be credited with special services to viticulture. In the Middle Ages, the monasteries of Göttweig Abbey (Kremstal), Klosterneuburg Abbey (Wagram), Melk Abbey (Wachau) and Heiligenkreuz Abbey (Thermenregion) were the main promoters of viticulture. The now abandoned Dinstlgut (Wachau, Lower Austria) also made an important contribution. The oldest Austrian wine-growing regulations with rules on working hours and fixed penalties for grape theft date back to 1352 and were issued by the Habsburg Duke Albrecht II (1298-1358). There was also a classification of wine quality classes as early as the Middle Ages.

Largest area under vines

In the 16th century, viticulture in Austria reached its peak, with around 150,000 to perhaps even 200,000 hectares of vineyards, at least three times as large as today. The Mönchsberg in Salzburg was planted with vines, as were the slopes of the Semmering. There were vineyards near Linz (Upper Austria), near Salzburg and also on a large scale in Carinthia and Tyrol. And the capital city of Vienna was literally built on vineyards. The wine book by the clergyman Johann Rasch (1540-1612) describes viticulture, cellar techniques and the drinking culture of the time in detail (see picture). However, the rise of beer, high taxes and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) led to a decline in the 17th century. Problems were caused above all by the tax, also known as Ungeld, which was increased from 10% to 30% in just twelve years. As a result, many vineyards were cleared and wheat or other products were grown instead. Inferior grape varieties were now favoured and cheap mass-produced wine was made from them.

Rasch Johann - Buch und Kalender


Under Maria Theresa (1717-1780), regulations were issued for the utilisation of cheap wine. Many vinegar distilleries, schnapps distilleries and mustard production from grape must were established. Under Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790), a written decree was issued on 17 August 1784 allowing people to sell their own wine at home. He thus laid the foundations for the Heurigen. A number of disasters occurred in the 19th century. An extreme cold snap, fungal diseases introduced from America and, as a negative highlight, phylloxera devastated entire wine-growing regions. The pest probably arrived in Austria in 1867 when August-Wilhelm Freiherr von Babo (1827-1894), director of the Klosterneuburg Wine Institute founded in 1860, was given American vines from Germany.

Sparkling wine

A milestone in Austrian wine history was set by Robert Schlumberger (1814-1879). In 1846, he introduced his "Vöslauer white sparkling wine", produced according to the méthode champenoise, which became a great success. After the Second World War, the old structures were changed through rationalisation and mechanisation. Lenz Moser III (1905-1978) in Rohrendorf near Krems in Lower Austria switched to the new vine training of so-called high culture, enabling the use of state-of-the-art equipment. The use of diethylene glycol for sweetening led to a wine scandal in 1985. As a result, however, stricter laws and, above all, controls were introduced in Austria, which made a decisive contribution to improving quality. In 1993, the vine certification project was launched with the aim of improving quality in the long term by analysing and selecting the healthiest possible vine material.

Climate and soils

Austria is characterised by a continental-Pannonian climate. There are cold winters and hot, dry summers with a long vegetation cycle. Warm, sunny summer days with often cool nights and mild autumn days are typical for most wine-growing regions. The average annual rainfall in the east is 400 mm, in Styria it can even be 800 mm or more. The Danube and its two tributaries Krems and Kamp as well as Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland have a positive influence on the climate. On the shores of Europe's second largest steppe lake, grapes of the Ausbruch, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese (or Ausbruch) grades often ripen in late autumn. Due to the often very low temperatures from December to January, a considerable production of ice wine is also possible in the east.

The altitude of most vineyards is usually around 200 metres, in Lower Austria up to 400 metres, with the highest vineyards in Styria up to 560 metres and Tyrol at 1,000 metres above sea level. The wine-growing regions are mostly located in temperate climate zones without major extremes, at around 47 and 48 degrees latitude; roughly comparable to Burgundy in France. The soil types are quite different. In Lower Austria, loess predominates in the Weinviertel and Danube Valley, primary rock in the Krems Valley and Wachau and limestone in the Thermenregion. In Burgenland, the soils consist mainly of slate, loam, marl, loess and sand, and in Styria of brown earth and volcanic soils.

Österreich - Weinbauregionen

Wine-growing areas

Austria is divided into three wine-growing regions (until 2009 there were four, including Vienna). These are Weinland (with the generic wine-growing regions of Burgenland, Lower Austria and Vienna), Steirerland (Styria) and Bergland (the remaining five federal states). The four federal states of Burgenland, Lower Austria, Styria and Vienna are generic wine-growing regions. Apart from Vienna (which is both a generic and a specific wine-growing region), the other three are subdivided into specific wine-growing regions. All wine-growing regions are located in the European wine-growing zone B (Germany mostly in A). The origin-specific DAC system (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) was introduced from the 2002 vintage onwards.

Österreich - Karte der generischen Weinbaugebiete

Wine-growing region










WEINLAND (Burgenland, Lower Austria, Vienna)










Eisenberg DAC (formerly Südburgenland) 708 670 515 511
Leithaberg DAC (formerly Neusiedlersee-Hügelland) 924 579 3.097 2.875
Mittelburgenland DAC 358 234 2.104 2.035
Neusiedlersee DAC 1.339 886 6.675 6.110
Rosalia DAC - 107 515 241
Ruster Ausbruch DAC - - - -

Lower Austria





Carnuntum DAC 282 207 906 832
Kamptal DAC 823 585 3.907 3.574
Kremstal DAC 747 587 2.368 2.252
Thermenregion DAC 693 554 2.182 1.872
Traisental DAC 451 382 815 848
Wachau DAC / Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus 502 455 1.344 1.323
Wagram (formerly Donauland) 926 638 2.720 2.459
Weinviertel DAC 3.791 2.621 13.858 13.911
without wine-growing region 54 5 45 2

Vienna DAC










Southern Styria DAC 623 580 2.563 2.788
Vulkanland Steiermark DAC (formerly Südoststeiermark) 1.199 1.058 1.524 1.657
West Styria DAC 261 246 546 641
without wine-growing region 2 2 0,3 0






Carinthia - 87 170 123
Upper Austria - 74 45 78
Salzburg - 1 7 0,1
Tyrol - 34 5 14
Vorarlberg - 9 10 5

Österreich - Karte der spezifischen Weinbaugebiete

Winegrowing operations and production volumes

The figures refer to surveys in 2022 compared to 2015 (farms) and 2017 (vineyards). The number of farms has fallen dramatically from 45,380 with an average farm size of 1.28 hectares (1987) to 20,181 with 2.26 hectares (2009), to 14,133 with 3.2 hectares (2017) and finally to 10,763 with 4.2 hectares (2022), representing around a quarter of all farms.

The number of small businesses (with a sales volume of less than 5,000 litres) has almost halved. Many small winegrowers with one hectare or less of vineyards have sold their land to larger wineries or given up farming. The number of producers bottling quality wine has fallen from just under 6,500 businesses in 2009 to around 4,000. In contrast, the number of efficient wineries producing over 30,000 litres has risen from around 970 in 2009 to 1,450. These wineries represent the spearhead of the Austrian wine industry.

Vineyards and grape varieties

The INVEKOS system introduced by the EU digitally records all vineyards. In Austria, 26 white wine and 14 red wine varieties are defined as quality wine grape varieties, which may be used for all quality types. The designations Weißer Burgunder, Grauer Burgunder, Blauer Burgunder, Rheinriesling and Blaufränkisch are not permitted for "wine with and without grape variety/vintage" in order to avoid confusion due to supposedly referring regions of origin (Burgundy, Rhine, Franconia). Instead, the designations Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling are permitted for these wines. There are also additional authorised grape varieties for these wines.

Development from 1951

The largest area under vines was 59,545 hectares in 1980. Austria is a typical white wine country, special red wine regions are the wine-growing areas Mittelburgenland, Südburgenland, Weststeiermark and Thermenregion. Red wine areas have increased steadily over the last 70 years; since 1951, the proportion has increased or quadrupled from 10% to 32%. However, this trend has recently come to a halt. In 2022, the vineyards covered a total of 44,728 hectares of vines. Compared to 2016 with 4,633 hectares, this was a reduction of 1,787 hectares (3.8%). Of these, 30,300 hectares (68%) are planted with white wine varieties and 14,428 hectares (32%) with red wine varieties. The organic vineyard area in Austria totalled 6,976 hectares in 2021, corresponding to 15.3% of the total area. Of which Burgenland 2,280, Lower Austria 3,866, Styria 569 and Vienna 202 hectares. This area is cultivated by 873 companies. Vineyard area development since 1951:

Österreich - Tabelle Entwicklung der Rebflächen

Changes from 2017 to 2022

Compared to 2017, the area under vines has decreased by 1,787 hectares (4%). Grüner Veltliner is the undisputed leader with 32.5%, accounting for a third of the total area and almost 50% of the white wine varieties. Zweigelt dominates the red wine varieties, followed by Blaufränkisch and Merlot. The biggest climbers were Chardonnay, Goldmuskateller, Merlot, Muscaris and Sauvignon Blanc, while the biggest decliners were Blauer Portugieser, Müller-Thurgau, St. Laurent and Welschriesling. The top 5 varieties:

Österreich - die Top-5-Rebsorten

Grape varieties

The most important varieties; the quality wine grape varieties compared in 2017 with 2022:

Grape variety
main name

in Austria
authorised synonyms






Grüner Veltliner Weißgipfler white 14.549 32,5 14.423 31,0
Zweigelt Blauer Zweigelt, Rotburger red 6.130 13,7 6.426 13,8
Welschriesling - white 2.882 6,4 3.338 7,2
Blaufränkisch - red 2.597 5,8 3.009 6,5
White Riesling Riesling Rhine Riesling white 2.040 4,6 1.986 4,3
Chardonnay Morillon (Styria) white 1.934 4,3 1.618 3,5
White Burgundy Pinot Blanc, Klevner white 1.873 4,2 1.971 4,2
Sauvignon Blanc Muscat Sylvaner white 1.692 3,8 1.248 2,7
Muscat Yellow M., Red M. / Muscat Blanc white 1.480 3,3 864 1,9
Müller-Thurgau Rivaner white 1.273 2,8 1.788 3,8
Merlot - red 806 1,8 724 1,6
St Laurent - red 596 1,3 732 1,6
Pinot Noir Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir red 590 1,3 616 1,3
Cabernet Sauvignon - red 572 1,3 589 1,3
Blauer Wildbacher - red 520 1,2 459 1,0
Blauer Portugieser - red 483 1,1 1.263 2,7
Blue Burgundy - red 460 1,0 742 1,6
Muscat Ottonel - white 319 0,7 357 0,8
Grey Burgundy Pinot Gris, Ruländer white 313 0,7 226 0,5
Scheurebe Seedling 88 white 303 0,7 357 0,8
Roesler - red 274 0,6 238 0,5
Traminer Gewürztraminer, Roter T., Gelber T. white 264 0,6 284 0,6
Neuburger - white 253 0,6 497 1,1
Frühroter Veltliner Malvasia white 244 0,5 367 0,8
Bouvier - white 210 0,5 220 0,5
Roter Veltliner - white 191 0,4 195 0,4
Syrah Shiraz red 152 0,3 153 0,3
Rotgipfler - white 112 0,3 119 0,3
Cabernet Franc - red 98 0,2 75 0,2
Blossom muscatel - white 89 0,2 - -
Muscaris - white 86 0,1 - -
Zierfandler Late red white 62 0,1 78 0,2
Souvignier Gris - white 61 0,1 - -
Rathay - red 42 0,1 35 0,1
Gold muscatel - white 40 0,1 - -
Gold burger - white 37 0,1 98 0,2
Furmint - white 27 0,1 11 -
Sylvaner Green Sylvaner white 24 0,1 38 0,1
Gold muscatel - red 9 - - -
Jubilee vine - white 3 - 6 -
other varieties - - 1.046 2,3 1.370 2,9
















Wine categories / quality levels

The EU wine market regulation in force from 2009 brought fundamental changes to the quality levels. The new EU-compliant designations PGI (protected geographical indication) and PDO (protected origin) were banned in Austria so as not to confuse consumers and the old designations Landwein and Qualitätswein/Prädikatswein were retained. The three levels are (the first two count as one):

  • Wine without a narrower indication of origin (formerly the now banned term table wine)
  • Wine with grape variety and/or vintage indication
  • Landwein (use of PGI is not permitted)
  • Quality wine and Prädikat wine (use of PDO is not permitted)

Wine without indication of grape variety and/or vintage - wine from Austria:

  • maximum three times the average yield per hectare
  • No other cultivation and production rules
  • minor wine defects such as slight bumps permitted

Wine with indication of variety and/or vintage - wine from Austria

  • free from defects in appearance, odour and taste
  • Maximum yield per hectare 10,000 kg of grapes or 7,500 litres of wine (see yield below)
  • At least 3.5 g/l total acidity
  • Quality wine grape varieties and others by country-specific regulation
  • Varietal indication exclusively for quality wine grape varieties specified above
  • Minimum alcohol content 8.5% vol.
  • Maximum enrichment 2%

Land wine

  • Grapes from one wine-growing region; only this is permitted as origin
  • Maximum yield per hectare 10,000 kg of grapes or 7,500 litres of wine (see yield below)
  • Only quality wine grape varieties
  • at least 14 °KMW must weight
  • Alcohol content max. 13.5% vol. for white wine, max. 14.5% vol. for red wine
  • at least 4 g/l total acidity
  • Sweetening to a maximum of 15 g/l

Quality wine

  • Positive sensory and analytical test = state test number
  • Grapes from a wine-growing region (origin for DAC is specific wine-growing region, other quality wines only generic wine-growing region)
  • Production in the wine-growing region of the wine-growing area or neighbouring region
  • Only quality wine grape varieties
  • Maximum yield per hectare 10,000 kg of grapes or 7,500 litres of wine (see yield below)
  • at least 15 °KMW must weight
  • at least 9% alcohol by volume (Prädikat wine 5% by volume)
  • at least 4 g/l total acidity
  • Sweetening to a maximum of 15 g/l


  • higher quality wine level (in contrast to Germany, no Prädikat wine)
  • at least 17° KMW
  • maximum 12.9% (13% until 2016) alcohol content maximum 4 g/l residual sugar or 9 g/l

Prädikat wines

According to EU law, also a quality wine, as there are officially only the three quality levels mentioned. However, traditional designations may continue to be used, which is also utilised by other countries such as Germany, Italy (DOC and DOCG) and Spain (DO and DOCa). According to Austrian wine law, a Prädikat wine is therefore a higher level of quality wine. There are six types of Prädikat wine: Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese or Ausbruch, Strohwein and Eiswein. The general regulations are

  • must comply with all quality wine regulations
  • Residual sugar may only be achieved by interrupting fermentation
  • Sweetening or enrichment is not permitted
  • Alcohol content at least 5% vol.
  • from Auslese grapes with overripe, noble rotten and dried berries (botrytis)

Late harvest

At least 19 °KMW; fully ripe grapes.


At least 21 °KMW; fully ripe, selected grapes.


At least 25 °KMW; overripe and/or noble rotten grapes.


At least 27 °KMW, exclusively noble rotten, overripe and dried grapes. The designation may only be used for the Ruster Ausbruch.


At least 30 °KMW; noble rotten, shrivelled grapes.

Straw wine

Since 2002, the alternative designation Schilfwein has also been permitted. At least 25 °KMW must weight. Must be produced from fully ripe and sugar-rich berries that have been stored on straw, reeds or hung on strings for at least three months before pressing. However, according to an amendment to the law in 2002, the grapes can be pressed after just two months if a must weight of at least 30 °KMW has been reached. If the must weight is not reached, the wine can (must) be marketed as quality wine.

Ice wine

At least 25 °KMW. The grapes are crushed and pressed in a frozen state. If the must degrees are not reached, the wine can (must) be marketed as quality wine.

Special types of wine

There are a number of specific designations or wine types with wine law specifications. These are Selection, Ausstich, Classic, Dreikönigswein, Gespritzter, Leopoldiwein, Jubiläumswein, Jungfernwein (First Harvest), Martiniwein, Messwein, Nikolowein, Primus (First), Premium, Reserve (Große Reserve, Grande Reserve), Selection (Selektion, Grande Selection), Stefaniwein, Tradition and Weihnachtswein. Other wine types are:

Mountain wine

Permitted for Landwein and Qualitätswein if the grapes come from terraced vineyards or steep slopes with a gradient of over 26% (45 degrees).


Designation for wine regardless of the quality level made exclusively from grapes harvested in Austria and produced in Austria. However, the wine may only be sold to resellers by 31 December of the year following the harvest at the latest and to consumers by 31 March of the following year. Heuriger is also the name commonly used in Austria for Buschenschank.


Protected designation for a partially fermented grape must. The alcohol content must be at least 1.0% and can be up to 10% by volume.

Gemischter Satz

This origin-protected term is reserved exclusively for Austria within the EU. Wiener Gemischter Satz is a DAC wine in the Vienna wine-growing region.

Organic wine

Production is subject at least to the guidelines of the EU Organic Regulation and, where applicable, to the often even stricter rules of various organic organisations. The Austrian umbrella organisation is Bio Austria. In 2021, Austria had 6,976 hectares of vineyards (around 15% of the total area) that are cultivated organically and is among the world leaders (see the table above and under Organic Viticulture).

Sparkling wine Austria

From the 2015 vintage, a sparkling wine quality pyramid with the three levels "Klassik", "Reserve" and "Große Reserve" was introduced and changed to "Sekt Austria", "Sekt Austria Reserve" and "Sekt Austria Große Reserve" from the 2022 vintage.

Important wine law provisions

The standard Austrian work on wine law is "Weingesetz" (Manz-Verlag), which comprises 818 pages in the 5th edition published in 2012. It offers a presentation of the entire wine law, including all regulations and EU provisions. There is also the electronic database RIS (Legal Information System) with articles on wine law, among other things (see also under Wine Law and EU Regulations).

Must weight

There is a minimum must weight for each quality level (see above).


The INVEKOS system mentioned above also had an influence on the maximum permitted yields per hectare. The maximum yield per hectare may now be 10,000 kg of grapes or 7,500 litres of wine (previously 9,000 kg of grapes or 6,750 litres of wine). This means that 1.33 kg of grapes yields 1 litre of wine. At the request of the National Wine Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture can reduce or increase the maximum quantity per hectare for the harvest of a year by up to 20% by decree if this is required by the climatic or wine-growing conditions for that year. For wine without a grape variety/vintage, a maximum of three times the average hectare yield of a farm; for all other quality levels, a maximum hectare yield of kilograms of grapes or litres of wine applies. If the maximum quantity is exceeded, the entire harvest of a vintage must be marketed as wine without a grape variety or vintage designation. The yield quantities must be reported to the BKI (Federal Winery Inspectorate) by means of a harvest declaration, which also checks compliance.


In the case of wine (without grape variety/vintage), only the EU or Austria may be indicated; in the case of country wine, the wine-growing region must be indicated; smaller units (wine-growing region, Großlage, municipality) are not permitted. From quality wine onwards, closer origins (wine-growing region, wine-growing area, Großlage, municipality, Ried in connection with municipality names) may be used if the wine comes 100% from the specified area.


An indication is only not permitted for wine without a grape variety/vintage. For the other quality levels, the proportion must be at least 85% of the stated vintage. Sweeteners and dosage do not count towards the 15%. For ice wine harvested in the following year (January or later), the previous year must be stated.

Grape varieties

An indication is only not permitted for wine (without grape variety/vintage). For the other quality levels, the proportion must be at least 85% of the specified grape variety. In the case of two or more grape varieties, the names may be indicated in descending order according to their quantity share if they add up to 100%. The indication of varietal purity is only permitted if the wine originates 100% from the specified grape variety. In the case of Spätlese and Auslese wines, the grape variety(ies) must be stated.

The blending of grapes, mash, must or wine from red and white wine grapes is only permitted for wines without a vintage/variety indication. However, these wines may then not be labelled as red wine or white wine, but only as "wine from Austria".

Sugar content

Austria has made it mandatory to indicate the residual sugar content on the label. A wine with a maximum of 4 g/l (previously the now no longer permitted extra dry) or with a maximum of 9 g/l is considered dry if the total acidity is no more than 2 g/l lower than the residual sugar. At 8 g/l, for example, this requires at least 6 g/l total acidity. The other grades are semi-dry with 12 g/l or 18 g/l if the total acidity is no more than 10 g/l lower, medium sweet with a higher value than for semi-dry but a maximum of 45 g/l, and sweet with at least 45 g/l. Tart and Austrian dry are not relevant under wine law.

Sweetening (increase in residual sugar)

Wine with and without a grape variety/vintage may be sweetened by a maximum of 4% alcohol by volume; this is approx. 68 g/l residual sugar, which corresponds to approx. 5 °KMW. Landwein and quality wine, on the other hand, may be sweetened to a maximum of 15 g/l residual sugar. Land wine and quality wine can be sweetened up to a maximum of 15 g/l of unfermented sugar. This can be done by adding grape must, concentrated grape must or (which is rarely done) RCGM (rectified grape must). Sucrose is prohibited as a sweetener. Sweetening is generally not permitted for Kabinett and Prädikat wines.

Enrichment (increasing the natural alcohol content)

May be carried out on all types of wine by a maximum of 2% alcohol content by volume using authorised agents. After application, a maximum of 18 g/l residual sugar is permitted for Landwein and quality wine (previously 15 g/l). The alcohol content may be reduced to a maximum of 12% vol. for white wine without and with grape variety/vintage, to a maximum of 12.5% vol. for red wine; to a maximum of 13.5% vol. for white country wine or quality wine; and to a maximum of 14.5% vol. for red country wine and quality wine. In principle, fortification is not permitted for Kabinett and Prädikat wines.

Institutions and committees

Important institutions, bodies, authorities and research institutes that perform research, organising, controlling, publicising or training functions in connection with viticulture include BKI (Federal Winery Inspectorate), Klosterneuburger Weinbauinstitut, ÖWM (Österreich Wein Marketing), Silberberg (Weinbauinstitut) and Weinakademie Österreich (see also under Viticultural Institutions).

Influential wine authors and wine critics include Christa Hanten, Helmut O. Knall, Walter Kutscher, Peter Moser, Michael Prónay, Peter Schleimer, Viktor Siegl and Rudolf Steurer. They contribute to many wine magazines and wine guides such as A la Carte - Magazin für Trink- und Esskultur, Falstaff Wein Guide Österreich/Südtirol, Gault Millau, Kutschers Kostnotizen, Vinaria Weinguide and Wine-Guide-Austria / Wine-Times (see also under Literature).

Map of Austria: © Goruma
Austria generic and specific
e wine-growing regions: ÖWM - Österreich Wein Marketing GmbH.
Grape varieties: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Table of vineyard development and wine book: Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer

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