The province of Burgenland with the capital Eisenstadt is located in the very east of Austria. It borders Slovakia in the north, Hungary in the east, Slovenia in the south for a few kilometres and the two Austrian provinces of Lower Austria and Styria in the west. Wine-growing has been of great importance here for at least two and a half millennia, which is underlined by the regional variation of the historian Johannes Aventinus (1477-1534)'s saying "Extra Pannoniam non es vita; si est vita, non est ita" (You cannot live outside Pannonia; if you can live, you cannot live like here). The village of Zagersdorf is, along with Stillfried in the Weinviertel, one of the oldest winegrowing communities in Austria, because grape seeds of the cultivated grape Vitis vinifera were discovered in a Celtic burial mound from the Hallstatt period around 700 BC.
In the first century B.C., the Romans advanced as far as the Danube and founded the province of Pannonia (historical landscape in western Hungary, which also included the present Bgld., which only came to Austria in 1920). A new wine culture was formed when Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus (232-282) lifted the ban on vine planting. At that time the Roman legionaries were entitled to three measures of wine per capita and day. In the year 433 A.D. Attila, king of the Huns, conquered the province of Pannonia. The turmoil of the migration of the peoples had a very negative effect on viticulture and it was Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) who initiated a reconstruction, among other things by introducing more noble Franconian varieties. Being allowed to serve wine from one's own vineyards in the Buschenschenken (Heurigen), a great revival.
The greatest merit can be attributed to the Cistercians, who drained and cleared the swampy and wooded area. In 1216 they were already cultivating 99 vineyards in Heiligenkreuz (Lower Austria). From here, they began to cultivate more vineyards around Lake Neusiedl, around Marienberg Monastery (near Oberpullendorf) and around St. Gotthard. By the 16th century, the vineyard area had reached its greatest expansion and viticulture had become the most important source of income. The Hungarian Queen Maria (1505-1558) granted the winegrowers of Burgenland great privileges. She granted the wine villages of Rust, Jois and Neusiedl am See the right to mark their wine barrels with the initial letters "R", "G" (for Geusz) and "N". The famous Ruster Ausbruch was created at this time and was equated with the Tokajer.
Burgenland was particularly affected by the many Turkish incursions in the 16th and 17th centuries. In spite of all the chaos of war, epidemics, bad weather and other blows of fate, the period from the 16th to the 18th century was the absolute heyday of winegrowing in Burgenland, with white wines being the main product at that time. Large quantities were delivered to the imperial court cellar in Vienna and the particularly popular wine from Rust was awarded the honorary title "Vinum imperatorum - imperator vinorum". At that time there were four quality classes in Burgenland: Vinum Nobile (fine wine, dried grapes of the Furmint grape variety), Vinum Bonum (quality wine from Furmint, Augster and Muskateller), Vinum Mediocre (medium quality) and Vinum Cibale (table wine).
In 1622, Count Nikolaus Esterházy (1583-1645) received the title of "Countess of the City" from the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II. (1578-1637) assigned the dominions of Forchtenstein and Eisenstadt as fiefdoms. This noble family promoted viticulture and wine trade and became the largest landowner in Austria. At the beginning of the 19th century the Golden Age was over. Due to the Napoleonic Wars and failed harvests, large areas of vineyards had to be abandoned and converted into arable land. In the second half of the 19th century phylloxera also struck in Burgenland. Paul Vetter from Gols rendered great services in the fight against phylloxera. The area is characterised by a Pannonian-continental climate, the climate-regulating influence of the 230 km² large Neusiedlersee lake and relatively long vegetation periods of up to 250 days. Due to the excellent climatic conditions, Burgenland is ideally suited for viticulture and is considered the red wine region of Austria.
Wine growing areas Burgenland
Together with Lower Austria and Vienna burgenland forms the wine growing region Weinland, which serves as an indication of origin for regional wines. It used to be divided into four wine-growing regions. In 2016 an extensive restructuring took place with changes in the boundaries of the winegrowing regions. Only two of them are congruent with the former wine-growing regions. The political district of Mattersburg forms the newly created fifth area Rosalia. The two large vineyards Pinkatal and Geschriebenstein were replaced by the large vineyard Südburgenland. The free city of Rust does not belong to any specific area. All quality wines must be labelled with the generic Burgenland wine region; DAC wines must also bear the DAC designation. The wine-growing regions with the vineyards in 2017 (the 2009 values in brackets):
Eisenberg DAC (congruent with former Southern Burgenland) - 515 ha (499 ha)
Leithaberg DAC (former Neusiedlersee hill country, modified boundaries) - 3,097 ha (3,576 ha)
In 2017, the vineyards covered a total of 13,100 hectares. Compared with 2009, when the total area was 13,842 hectares, this was a reduction of almost 6%. The share of white wine varieties amounts to 44.4% and the share of red wine varieties to 55.6%. The two red wine varieties Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt, which together account for around 40%, are at the top of the list: