Wine Regions of Austria

Beautiful, scenic Austria is synonymous with such pop culture icons as The Sound of Music, Gustav Klimt, Mozart, and the Alps. Austria is a tiny country nestled deep in the mountains. It is known for its sausages, schnitzel, spaetzle, and Märzen and Hefeweisen beer. But it also has a powerful reputation as a wine producer.

Austria has three major wine-growing regions: Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), Burgenland, and Steiermark (Styria). Most of these regions, as you will see in the attached map, are located in the eastern part of Austria. That’s due to the favorable climates found in those areas. We will discuss all three of these regions, as well as Vienna (Wein), since there are many opportunities for wine tasting in and around Vienna.

Wine Regions of Austria

Wine from Austria has seen a huge surge in production and sales in the last three years. Exports are well above the 180 million euro mark, and volume has increased steadily to 63 million liters. The increase in demand for Austrian wine is driven primarily by Austrian white wine. (Nerd out on some stats here.)

One reason to love Austrian wine is that its producer base is comprised of mostly small, family-owned estates. It’s not that there are NO big conglomerates to be found in Austria. But the vast majority of the wine produced here is from small, independently owned estates. Which is something we adore.

This article will also discuss the major grape varietals commonly found in Austria. The most popular, indigenous grape variety is the Grüner Veltliner, which we will discuss in the varietal section. In total, Austria’s wine-growing area comprises 46,000 hectares. That’s pretty small compared to other European countries—Spain leads the acreage at 910,859 hectares. (More nerdy stats here.)

You will see in the photos in this blog that Austria doesn’t just have a lot of old-timey architecture on display. Many wineries are embracing contemporary, streamlined architecture. These regions are exciting not just for the cultural and historical elements. It’s the way the country so beautifully combines agricultural and urban landscapes, the old and new, traditional and contemporary. This is true across their brands, their wine-making, and their style.

Niederöesterreich (Lower Austria)

Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria)

Niederösterreich is Austria’s largest wine-growing region, boasting 60 percent of the country’s vineyards. Within this region, there are eight subregions: Wachau, Carnuntum, Weinviertel, the Danube region, Traisen, Kamp, Krems, and Pannonian Niederösterreich.

Weinviertel is growing in popularity due to its peppery Grüner Veltliner, which comprises 44 percent of the wine production market of the region.  The region is fantastic for wine tours; along the Danube, there are charming wine villages threaded like a string of pearls. The Riesling is popular in this region, alongside the Grüner Veltliner. Outstanding red wines are found in Pannonian Niederösterreich, including Pinot Noir and St. Laurent wines. You’ll also find the Zweigelt and the Blaufränkisch.

Niederösterreich has a total of 27,128 hectares and has three climate zones within the region. This is one reason why they are able to produce such a variety of wines.

Best wineries to visit in Niederösterreich:



Like Niederösterreich, Burgenland is also divided into sub-regions. In Burgenland, there are four sub-regions: Neusiedlersee, Leithaberg/Neusiedlersee-Huegelland, Mittelburgenland, and Eisenberg/Suedbergenland.

Located in the east, Burgenland generally has a hot climate compared to other regions in the country. It’s known for its Blaufrankisch and Blauer Zweigelt red wines.  Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese dessert wines are also prominent. This includes Ruster Ausbruch, which is extremely popular. The region surrounds Lake Neusiedl, which, combined with warm fall days, favors the development of noble rot. This is an important element in cultivating these sweet dessert wines.

Burgenland has 28 percent of Austria’s vineyard area. The winegrowers here are known for their pioneering and exploratory spirit. They explore international grape varieties as well as continuing native grape varietals.

Other grape varietals that are commonly found in Burgenland include Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Blaufraenkisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Neuburger, Gruener Vetliner, Traminer, Zweigelt, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Best wineries to visit in Burgenland:

Steiermark (Styria)

Steiermark (Styria)

Nestled in the southeastern curve of Austria, Steiermark is known for its Welschriesling wines. This wine region is small, with only 10 percent of Austria’s vineyards. There are three Styrian wine-growing sub-regions: Südoststeiermark, Vulkanland, and Weststeiermark. This region is in a volcanic area, and its soil is perfect for cultivating certain types of grapes.

This region is known for its aromatic white wines. The most common wines found in the Styrian region include Schilcher Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Riesling, and of course the Welschriesling. There are many wonderful regional wine specialties, including seasonal wines, that can be found in Steiermark. For example, “Junker” wines debut in the first week of November. “Klassik” wines are produced in the spring and are traditionally dry. “Lagen” wines are dry, full-bodied, and produced from very ripe grapes from established single vineyards. Some of these wineries have been in business, cultivating vineyards and making wine, for more than 250 years.

Steiermark shares a border with Slovenia and has beautiful hills. This is a picturesque place (think: of strains of Edelweiss playing in the background) to embark on a wine tour. The South Styrian Wine Road is a great place to start. You’ll find plenty of charming villages and good food. Enjoy chocolate shops, brandies, and fine vinegar to buy and sample along the way.

Best wineries to visit in Steiermark:

Vienna (Wein)

Vienna (Wein)

Vienna and its outer districts have a surprising 1,574 acres of vineyards. Their signature wine is the Wierner Gemischter Satz (Viennese Field Blend). More than 101.80 hectares are planted with Gemischter Satz. This wine is mixed using white grapes like Grüner and Roter Vetliner, Riesling, Traminer, and others. This field blend is popular in taverns, and the regional differences really make their mark on the blends.  You can also find varietal Riesling, Grüner, and Pinot Noir bottles in the Vienna area.

In the late Middle Ages, wine was still grown and produced inside the city walls, in what is now the First District of Vienna. These days, most of the vineyards are found in the suburbs. The Bisamberg region north of the Danube produces favorable Pinots. In the Ottakring via Hernals up to Pötzleinsdorf, you’ll find Rieslings, Chardonnays, and Weissburgunder. Nussburg is a terrific suburban wine town, and you’ll find youthful energy here and winegrowers willing to innovate and take risks.

Best wineries and places to taste wine in the Vienna area:

Grape Varietals

What are the most common types of wine grape varietals grown in Austria?

The Grüner Vetliner is by far the most popular type of grape. This grape, indigenous to Austria, produces a light-bodied white wine. There are several regional types that use this grape, including the “Klassik,” which is typically lighter and more peppery. The “Reserve” or “Smaragd” have rich, tropical tones. Finding a Grüner Vetliner aged in oak is delicious. Fun trivia: DNA analysts have traced the Grüner Vetliner as a natural crossing of the Traminer grape and an obscure Austrian grapevine from Sankt Georgen am Leithagebirge in Burgenland. It’s crazy when grapes have deeper known lineages than you do yourself, right?

The Zweigelt is a light-bodied red wine, and it’s the second most commonly grown grape in Austria. It was created in 1922 by crossing St. Laurent and the Blaufränkisch grape. St. Laurent is lighter than Pinot Noir, but the Blaufränkisch is a robust wine. The results of the combo are spicy, red-fruit-driven red and rosé wines that are deliciously chilled as well as kept at room temperature.

Richer and deeper in complexity is the Blaufränkisch grape varietal. This dark-skinned grape has a high tannin level and often exhibits pronounced spiciness. It’s reminiscent of dried cherries, allspice, and sweet tobacco. Because of the tannins, the Blaufränkisch makes a good candidate for aging in a cellar. Over time, though, the character changes and becomes much more velvety and less spicy. In America, you may know this grape by its other name—a Lemberger. It likely can trace its very beginnings to Lower Styria, and the Lemberger name comes from its transport to Germany in the 19th century.

In addition to these varietals, you can also find in Austria:

  • Zweigelt
  • Grasvinia
  • Müler-Thurgau
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Riesling
  • Blauer Portugieser

Common Label Terms

German is hard to interpret if you haven’t learned it! Here’s a little handy guide for interpreting some of the words you might find on a wine label in Austria (or Germany).

  • Auslese – This is a category of Prädikatswein or “excellent” wines. These are made from very ripe, hand-selected bunches. These grapes often have some noble rot character. Wines that are very dry up to very sweet can be placed in this category.
  • Beerenauslese – Again, this is a category of Prädikatswein wines. These grapes are overly ripe and are often affected by noble rot, which makes for very rich, sweet dessert wines.
  • DAC – An entire article could be written about DAC classifications! These are Qualitätwein wines from 10 of 16 Austrian wine regions that have officially-designated wine styles. These approved regions and approved wine styles are subject to rigid controls.
  • Eiswein – These are “ice wines.” These wines, part of the Prädikatswein category, have been left on the vines so long that they have gone through a frost and have frozen on the vine. This makes a very concentrated, sweet wine.
  • Halbtrocken – This is an off-dry wine with residual sugars between 10-18 g/L.

Kabinett – These are quality wines that would fall inside the Prädikatswein category (see below). These wines are made using fully ripened grapes from the main harvest (usually in September).

  • Klassik – Light, zesty wines.
  • Landwein – If the wine is from Weinland, Steierland, or Bergland, it’s one step up from a table wine and uses 36 official grapes.
  • Leiblich – This is a medium-sweet wine with residual sugars up to 45 g/L.

Prädikatswein – This is the top quality wine. The range in this category can be dry to intensely sweet, but these wines usually have a noticeable amount of residual sugar.

  • Qualitätwein – This is an indicator that the wine is of top quality. The bottle should also have a red seal and a wine bottle seal to indicate the wine passed two quality inspections. The label should also indicate which region it came from (such as Niederösterreich, Burgenland, Steiermark, etc.).
  • Reserve – Rich wines with 13% ABV or more and include hand-harvested grapes.
  • Spätlese – This is another classification of a Prädikatswein wine. These are typically half-dry wines and are often (but not always) sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett wines. The grapes are picked seven days after the normal harvest, so the grapes are riper than average.
  • Trocken – This indicates a dry wine with less than 1 g/L residual sugar.
  • Trockenberenauslese – These wines, part of the Prädikatswein category are made from overly ripe and shriveled grapes that have been affected by noble rot. “Trocken” refers to grapes being dried on the vine rather than the resulting wine being a dry style.
  • Wein/Austrian Sekt – Just a basic table wine.