Austria is a small and picturesque wine country in the heart of Europe, famous with its white wines along the Danube River and offers unique red and sweet wines from the east part of the country. Austria has been producing wine for centuries with first recordings of wine dating back to the Romans times around 700 BC.
Monks from Bavaria and Salzburg have been planting vines on the steep terraces alongside the Danube since medieval times. Austria is an alpine country and most of the important wine growing happens in the eastern part of the country. The climate is mainly continental with cold influences from the North and slight Mediterranean from the South, which makes a strongly continental climate with pronounced temperature variations from day to night and from summer to winter. The landscape of Austria varies as well, steep slopes, valleys, rolling hills, terraces, specific sites in the different regions are features that belong to the visible charm of the country.
There are four major wine growing areas and around eleven notable wine regions, starting with the regions alongside Danube River - Wachau, Kamptal, Kremstal, Wien, Wagram, Carnuntum, Burgenland and Neusiedlersee near to the Hungarian border, Steiermark on the southeastern part of the country, Weinfiertel on the northeastern part and Thermenregion just below Vienna. Austria is well known for its indigenous white grape variety the Grüner Veltliner, which accounts for the 2/3 of the whole plantings in the country.
The popularity of other unique grapes like the red Zweigelt, Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch is increasing internationally. Of course, the Riesling is very famous here and some of the French grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or known here as Weissburgunder, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Austria has similar quality classification system to Germany as it follows the first category is called Tafelwein (table wine), the second is Landwein (country wine), the third is Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) wines from a defined appellation, which can be blended from several regions and still be classified as Qualitätswein (quality wine) and the best category is Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) wines that are made from grapes of higher ripeness. And there are sub-categories within which are called Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, Strohwein and Trockenbeerenauslese.
Austria wines also follow the Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) appellation system, founded in 2003. It is a similar way to the AOC classification in France, the DAC wine regulations impose certain limitations covering permitted grape varieties, alcohol levels and oak maturation management. The aim of these is to ensure that wines bearing a DAC title express an authentic example of the classic regional wine style.