Among the Austrian red wines, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch are predominant, with Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah being grown in increasing amounts. The proportion of red wines has doubled over the last two decades and now represents one third of Austria’s vineyards, which total about 46,000 hectares.
There are over 30 officially approved varieties of grape grown here for the production of Qualitätswein (quality wine) or Qualitätswein of a special ripeness and type of harvest (Prädikatswein – sweet wine) and Landwein. However, for the production of Austrian white wine, by far the most widely grown white grape is Grüner Veltliner, with Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay also popular.
Austrian is famous for its wide range of sweet wines. The luscious Auslese, Beerenauslese, Ausbruch, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein (ice wine) have become well known around the world.
Austria’s vineyards lie in the east of the country, north and south of Vienna, bordering Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. In these areas, the climate is warm, dry and continental with the hottest and driest region being the Burgenland where in warm autumn mists rising from the Neusiedler See help produce botrytis cinerea (noble rot).