One of the three specific wine growing areas in the Austrian province or generic wine growing area of Styria. The history of viticulture goes back to the fourth century BC. At the end of the 19th century, there were still 35,000 hectares of vineyards in Lower Styria, as it was then called, in the monarchy - that was about 15 times as much as today. At that time, however, this included areas that are now in Slovenia. The Habsburg Archduke Johann (1782-1859) set the course for Styrian quality viticulture here by founding an experimental vineyard near Marburg. At that time, the Pinot Blanc from the Jerusalem vineyard, which today lies in Slovenia, was one of the most sought-after white wines in Europe.
The area is divided into an area on the Slovenian border and the Sausal region west of Leibnitz. The Sausal slopes at an altitude of up to 650 metres above sea level, with a gradient of up to 42° (90%), can be cultivated in part only with a cable winch. They are among the steepest vineyards in Austria. Well-known winegrowing communities are Berghausen, Ehrenhausen, Gamlitz, Heimschuh, Kitzeck (winegrowing museum), Leibnitz, Leutschach, Silberberg (winegrowing school), Spielfeld, St. Andrä im Sausal and Sulztal. These are connected by the South Styrian Wine Route, Sausal Wine Route and Rebenland Wine Route (also Klapotetz Wine Route).
The climate is characterised by Pannonian and southern European influences. Rainfall is twice as high as in Burgenland and Lower Austria. The humid and warm weather favours the spread of botrytis for the production of noble sweet wines. Soil types are predominantly slate, sand, marl and limestone soils. A sandy-clayey sedimentary rock, often mixed with shell limestone, is called Opok here.
List of grape varieties
In 2016 the vineyards covered a total of 2,563 hectares of vines. Compared to the year 2009 with 2,340 hectares, this was an increase of 9.5%. The share of the clearly dominant white wine varieties is 87.2%, the share of red wine varieties 12.8% (Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay were recorded together in 2009 with 487 hectares):
In 2018 the origin-oriented DAC system was introduced in Styria. All other quality wines must be marketed with the origin Styria, the country wines under the wine growing region designation Styria. In contrast to Burgenland and Lower Austria (where the individual areas were realised one after the other), an overall concept was developed for all three specific wine growing regions. There is a three-level pyramid of origin with regional wine, local wine and Riedenwein.
The Styrian diversity of varieties is taken into account in different ways (see in the diagram). In the case of regional wines, it is retained, while in the case of local wines and in some cases also of Riedenwein, local leading varieties have been defined differently for each wine-growing region. The area wines may be marketed from 1 March, the Riedenwein and the local wines from 1 May of the year following the harvest. An exception are the wines from Welschriesling and Schilcher, which may be marketed already from December 1st of the year of harvest. An exception also applies to the Styrian Junker, which is traditionally presented at the beginning of November.
The Southern Styria DAC area includes the political district of Leibnitz without the municipal areas on the left bank of the Mur river. The cross-local winegrowing communities are Kitzeck-Sausal, Eichberg, Leutschach, Gamlitz and Ehrenhausen. The leading varieties are Sauvignon Blanc (all winegrowing communes), Riesling (Kitzeck-Sausal), Gelber Muskateller (Leutschach, Gamlitz) and Morillon (Ehrenhausen).