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Regions

Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Description to Styria/Steiermark

The federal state of Styria with its capital Graz is located in the south-east of Austria. It borders the federal states of Carinthia in the southwest, Salzburg (west), Upper Austria and Lower Austria in the north, Burgenland in the east and Slovenia in the south. The Celts practised cultivated viticulture as early as the fourth century BC. As in all of Central Europe, the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) gave new impetus to viticulture. In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church and its monasteries, especially Rein Abbey of the Cistercian monastic order, made a great contribution to Styrian viticulture. In 1406, 535 places with 6,000 vineyards were already documented. In the 16th century, the vineyards covered 35,000 hectares, which was about eight times as much as today.

Viticulture in modern times

The Habsburg Archduke Johann (1782-1859), who is still highly revered in Styria today, owned a castle in what is now the Schilcher centre of Stainz. In 1822 he founded an experimental vineyard near Marburg, thus setting the course for quality-oriented viticulture. The Archduke had the grape varieties Traminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Silvaner, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, which had been unknown locally until then, planted and tried out new forms of education. He also promoted the training of winegrowers and hygiene in wine production. In 1872, the Styrian School of Fruit and Viticulture was founded in Marburg. The first director Hermann Goethe (1837-1911) was one of the most distinguished viticultural experts and ampelographers of his time. Today, Styrian winegrowers are trained at the viticulture school in Silberberg near Leibnitz.

After the First World War (1914-1918), a large part of the vineyards were lost to Slovenia as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. The Second World War (1939-1945) brought great devastation, as Styria was a combat zone in many places. Viticulture suffered a decline and in the early 1960s the area under vines was only about 1,600 hectares. Thanks to targeted support from the Styrian provincial government in the form of winegrowing plans with the renewal and increase of vineyards and conversion to modern forms of cultivation, the number of vines was increased again to about two and a half times its original size.

Climate & Soils

The climate lies at the interface of the southern European Mediterranean climate in the west and south, and the Pannonian climate with hot, low-precipitation summers in the southeast. Annual precipitation amounts to 1,200 millimetres in the west, but only 800 millimetres in the east. Large temperature fluctuations between day and night in autumn give the wines a variety of aromas. In the south-eastern area around Bad Gleichenberg, Kapfenstein, Klöch, Riegersburg and Straden, soils of volcanic origin with towering Vuklan cones, sandy loams, clays and basalt weathering predominate. In the Sausal there is a siliceous rock brown earth over mica schist and gneiss. Around Fürstenfeld and north of it around Hartberg and Weiz there are slate weathering soils. In the hill country of Gamlitz, Glanz, Grassnitzberg, Plössnitz, Zieregg and Zoppelberg there is sandy-toned sedimentary rock known as opok, mixed with shell limestone.

Steiermark - Karte mit Weinbaugebieten

All vineyards are located in the south near the border with Slovenia. The vineyards are widely scattered and are mainly planted on steep southern slopes up to 650 metres above sea level (Vulkanland Steiermark, Ringkogel near Hartberg). Around 70% of the vineyards are partly terraced slopes with a gradient of more than 26% and are thus classified as "mountain vineyards" according to Austrian wine law. The emblem of Styrian viticulture is the Klapotetz, a wind-powered device against harmful birds. The numerous wine roads are worth mentioning. Since 2018, there has also been a "Grazer Stadtwein" (Graz city wine) from revitalised vineyards of the Kehlberg in Graz. 75% of the wines produced are white, mostly dry and fruity. A Styrian speciality is Schilcher from the Blauer Wildbacher variety.

DAC system

In 2018, the DAC system was introduced in all three specific wine-growing regions. The DAC area Schilcherland, which was introduced at short notice in 2017, was replaced by DAC Weststeiermark. For all quality wines, the generic wine-growing region of Styria must appear on the label; for DAC wines, the DAC designation must also appear. The entire area of the province forms the wine-growing region Steirerland, which serves as an indication of origin for regional wines. All other quality wines must be marketed with the origin Steiermark, the Land wines under the wine-growing region designation Steirerland. The wine-growing regions with the areas under vines in 2016 (the 2009 values are in parentheses):

In contrast to the two federal provinces of Burgenland and Lower Austria (where the individual DAC areas were realised one after the other), an overall concept applies to all three specific wine-growing areas. There is a three-level pyramid of origin with regional wine, local wine and Riedenwein. Styrian varietal diversity is taken into account in different ways (see graphic). In the case of regional wine, it is preserved; in the case of local wine and partly also in the case of Riedenwein, local leading varieties have been defined differently for each wine-growing region. The regional wines may be marketed from 1 March, the ried wines and the local wines from 1 May of the year following the harvest. An exception is made for wines made from Welschriesling and Schilcher, which may be marketed as early as 1 December of the year of harvest. There is also an exception for Steirischer Junker, which is traditionally presented at the beginning of November.

Steiermark - DAC Qualitätspyramide

Grape variety list

In 2016, the vineyards covered a total of 4,633 hectares of vineyards. The share of the clearly dominant white wine varieties is 77.6%, the share of red wine varieties 22.4%.

Grape variety - Austrian
Main name
officially permitted in Austria
Synonyms
Colour Hectare
2016
%-Ant
2016
Hectare
2009
Welschriesling - white 753 16,2 793
Sauvignon Blanc Muscat Sylvaner white 683 14,7 513
White Burgundy Pinot Blanc, Klevner white 576 12,4 513
Blue Wildbacher - red 457 10,0 450
Zweigelt Blue Zweigelt, Rotburger red 351 7,6 441
Muscat Blanc Yellow M., Red M. / Muscat Blanc white 329 7,1 216
Chardonnay Morillon white 328 7,1 331
Müller-Thurgau Rivaner white 245 5,3 314
Scheurebe seedling 88 white 152 3,3 157
Grey Burgundy Pinot Gris, Ruländer white 97 12,1 81
Traminer Gewürztraminer, Red T., Yellow T. white 70 1,5 81
White Riesling Riesling, Rhine Riesling white 63 1,4 76
Goldburger - white 30 0,6 42
Merlot - red 21 0,4 21
Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Pinot Noir, Blue Pinot Noir red 18,3 0,4 17
Blauburger - red 18,2 0,4 30
Mixed set white Styrian mixed set white 17,4 0,4 28
Cabernet Sauvignon - red 14,3 0,3 17
St. Laurent - red 13,9 0,3 16
Blaufränkisch - red 13,6 0,3 17
Sylvaner Green Sylvaner white 8,3 0,2 11
Roesler - red 6,4 0,1 3
Muscat Ottonel - white 4,4 0,1 6
Blue Portugieser - red 2,0 - 3
Syrah Shiraz red 2,0 - 0,5
Bouvier - white 1,4 - 2
Cabernet Franc - red 0,8 - 1
Rathay - red 0,7 - 1
other white varieties - white 237,4 5,1 56
other red varieties - red 121 0,6 -
WHITE SORT 3.594 77,6 3.225
RED SORT 1.040 22,4 1.017
TOTAL 4.633 100 4.242

Associations and wineries

Verein Wein Steiermark represents over 750 members, other large winegrowers' associations are Steirische Terroir & Klassikweingüter and Erzherzog Johann Weine. The wineries are listed under the wine-growing regions.

Graphics: © ÖWM
further information: Wine Styria

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