Austria's wine exports down

Austria's wine export revenues in 2015 declined for the first time in eight years.

Wine exports last year amounted to 48 million litres and €143 million, according to Statistik Austria. This was due to the difficult vintage in 2014 which resulted in reduced volumes. The decrease in sales of 1.1%, compared with 2014, turned out to be less than had been feared.

Nevertheless, the Austrian Wine Marketing Board reports that in the sector of bottled Qualitätswein, 2015 brought a substantial increase once more. Red wines showed a growth of nearly €4m (+13.5%). Bulk wines, wines without protected designation of origin, as well as Prädikatsweine declined.

Figures also show full-fledged slumps in exports of sparkling wine, and above all with Perlwein (lightly sparkling wine), which could only be explained by industry insiders with speculations about the performance of certain ‘industrial’ frizzante products, according to the AWMB.

There was a 10% growth in revenue among non-EU member countries, while figures for the EU-28 show a 4.8% decline. Negative figures for sekt, frizzante and bulk wine clouded the results for Germany, which otherwise showed a thoroughly positive development, says the board.

Export revenues declined in particular in markets which were previously consistently successful – the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Italy – while Great Britain, Belgium and Denmark once again showed strong gains. Outside of the EU, positive surprises were in store from Switzerland, the US, Norway, Hong Kong and Russia, while declines were reported in China and Japan.

The 2016 harvest looks problematical, according to the AWMB. Growers and producers are looking forward to an average-sized crop and good quality from Grüner Veltliner, but in the reds, particularly with the variety Zweigelt, and with Steiermark’s regional specialties, the severe late frost at the end of April leaves a less than rosy outlook, says the board.

On the bright side, the board reports strong demand for wines from the vintage 2015.

“The level of interest for these marvellous red and white premium bottlings can be strongly felt after the VieVinum fair in June, both domestically and on the international markets,” states the AWMB.

“Some of the most sought-after white and red wines will only be released initially as of autumn 2016, and further into 2017. With these, Austrian wine will write new chapters of its success story even in difficult times, especially since international appraisals and reviews of this exceptional vintage cannot help but offer a degree of consolation for the unfortunate weather phenomena – even in the Steiermark,” it says triumphantly.