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The Wine Regions of Austria: Focus on Styria

The wine regions of Austria are divided into 4 areas, called Lower Austria, Styria, Burgenland, and Vienna. Each of these regions is then further divided, for a total of 19 designated wine growing areas. To roughly get your bearings, Lower Austria encompasses the wine growing areas north and west of Vienna, with Burgenland south and east of Vienna and Styria south and west of Burgenland.

Styria is truly as gorgeous a wine country as can be found anywhere in the world, particularly along the “Sudsteirischen Weinstrasse” (Southern Styrian Wine Road) which travels the hills from the towns of Leutschach to Berghausen and Leibnitz to Demmerkogel and is a well loved wine-tourist route. The Styrian wine area is divided into three sub-regions: Southeastern Styria (Sud-oststeiermark), Western Styria (Weststeiermark), and Southern Styria (Sudsteiermark), of which the last is perhaps the best known.

The 4700 acres of vineyards in Southern Styria, with its breathtaking hills, makes it the largest of the three regions. Set on the border of Slovenia, it has been cultivating vines nearly uninterrupted since Imperial times. It enjoys a climate like that of the rest of Southern Europe and is planted nearly exclusively with white varietals. Of those, it is most well-known for its Sauvignon Blancs, which have a structure, elegance and fruit-forward profile rivaling the best of what either the Ancient or New World have to offer. The most reknowned winemaking villages in Southern Styria are Gamlitz, Leutschach, Silberberg (which has a well-regarded winemaking school), Ehrenhausen and Kitzeck. The finest of those fine Sauvignon Blancs and other white wines come from the wineries of Sabathi, Tement, Tschermonegg, Yucky, Sattlerhof and the recently closed VIN’O Tscheppe (the 2004 will mark their final vintage).

In Western Styria, which is comprised of about 1800 acres of vines, there is a truly regional wine called Schilcher. Made from the Blauer Wildbacher grape, it has a distinctive salmon color and a very high acid content. Here they don’t worry about exporting, as the majority of the small amount produced is all but really consumed in the local heurigers (wine gardens), and the wine is not built for aging and must be consumed when young.

Most of the wines grown in Southeastern Styria’s 3400 acres come from vineyards that are less than an acre large, so the winemaking is primarily a side profession here, with extra wine being sold in the local eateries, called Buschenschanken. In the area around Kloch, but, some excellent Traminer white wines are being produced, and they have given themselves the brand “Klocher Traminer Schutzmarke” in order to stand out from the rest of the region.

Emily Schindler is a wine importer based in Los Angeles. Specializing in Austrian wines, you can read more of her writing about the Austrian wine regions, see maps, and find fantastic Austrian wines at winemonger.com winemonger.com



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