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

Description to Styria/Steiermark

The province of Styria with its capital Graz is located in the south-east of Austria. It borders the provinces of Carinthia (SW), Salzburg (W), Upper Austria (N), Lower Austria (N) and Burgenland (E), as well as Slovenia in the south. The Celts practised cultivated viticulture as early as the fourth century BC. As in all of Central Europe, 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 Order, rendered great services to Styrian viticulture. In 1406, 535 places with 6,000 vineyards were already documented. In the 16th century, the area under vines was 35,000 hectares, about eight times larger than today.

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 and thus set 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 was lost to Slovenia due to the provisions 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 viticulture plans with the renewal and increase of vineyards as well as conversion to modern forms of cultivation, the number of vines has increased again to more than two and a half times today.

All vineyards are located in the south of the province 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 to drive away harmful birds from the vineyards. 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.

The climate lies at the interface of a southern European Mediterranean climate in the west and south, and a 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.

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. Three quarters of the wines produced are white, mostly dry, fresh-fruity and light in alcohol. A particular Styrian speciality is Schilcher from the Blauer Wildbacher variety.

Wine-growing regions of Styria

In 2018, the DAC system was introduced in all three specific wine-growing regions without any name or wine-growing region changes. The DAC area Schilcherland, which was introduced at short notice in 2017, was thereby replaced by DAC Weststeiermark. The generic wine-growing region of Styria must appear on the label of all quality wines; the DAC designation must also appear on DAC wines. The entire areas of the province form the wine-growing region Steirerland, which serves as an indication of origin for regional wines. The wine-growing regions with the areas under vines in 2016 (in parentheses the values in 2009):

Steiermark - Karte mit Weinbaugebieten

Grape variety list

In 2016, the vineyards covered a total of 4,633 hectares of vineyards. Compared to 2009 with 4,242 hectares, there was an increase of 8%. The share of the clearly dominant white wine varieties is 77.6%, the share of red wine varieties 22.4%. The ranking of the first five varieties remained the same.

Grape variety - Austr
Main name
officially permitted in Austria
Colour Hectare
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
Blauer 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
and. white varieties - white 237,4 5,1 56
and. 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

DAC system

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 winegrowing region designation Steirerland. 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.

Steiermark - DAC Qualitätspyramide

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. Likewise, an exception applies to Steirischer Junker, which is traditionally presented at the beginning of November.

Graphics: © ÖWM

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