One of the three specific wine-growing areas in the Austrian province or generic wine-growing region of Styria. The narrow, elongated area borders Slovenia in the south. A viticulture can be traced back to the fourth century BC, as the Illyrians, Celts and later the Romans already cultivated vines here. In 1235, viticulture on the Ligistberg was first mentioned in a document. The location at the foothills of the Koralpe and the Reinischkogel protects against wind and causes strong warming during the day. The vineyards lie between 420 and 600 metres above sea level. Steep slopes and almost gorge-like valleys characterise the picture of the wine communities. Gneiss and slate weathered soils predominate.
Western Styria is the classic region of Schilcher wine, produced for centuries from the Blauer Wildbacher variety, which is grown almost exclusively in Styria and occupies around two thirds of the vineyard area here. There is also an "Association for the Protection of the Classic Schilcher from Western Styria" with the trademark White Horse. The area includes the entire wine-growing region of Western Styria and, as a novelty, the cadastral municipality of Obergreith (municipality of Oberhaag in the district of Leibnitz) in the wine-growing region of Southern Styria.
Well-known wine-growing communities include Bad Gams, Deutschlandsberg (Riede Burgegg), Eibiswald, Groß St. Florian, Ligist, Marhof, Schwanberg, the Schilcher centre Stainz (Riede Engelweingarten), Stallhofen, St. Stefan ob Stanz, Gundersdorf, Greisdorf and Wies (Riede Lamberg). The "Schilcher Wine Route" begins in Ligist, passes through the most important villages and ends in Eibiswald. Characteristic of the wine-growing region are the "Kellerstöckln", which consist only of a pressing room with a wine cellar below.
Grape variety list
In 2016, the vineyards covered a total of 546 hectares of vines. Compared to the year 2009 with 501 hectares, this was an increase of 9%. The share of red wine varieties amounts to 71.2% (of which the clearly dominant Schilcher variety Blauer Wildbacher accounts for more than two thirds or 67%), the share of white wine varieties 28.8% (Weißburgunder and Chardonnay were recorded together with 51 ha in 2009):
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.
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. Exceptions are the wines made from Welschriesling and Schilcher (to be indicated as Schilcher Klassik), which may be marketed as area wines as of 1 December of the year of harvest and as local wines as of 1 February of the year following the harvest. Likewise, an exception applies to Steirischer Junker, which is traditionally presented at the beginning of November.
The Western Styria DAC area includes the political districts of Graz, Graz-Umgebung, Deutschlandsberg and Voitsberg. The cross-local wine-growing communities of Deutschlandsberg, Eibiswald, Ligist and Stainz. The leading varieties are Blauer Wildbacher (developed as Schilcher) and Sauvignon Blanc.