Austrian wine harvest up +36%

The Austrian wine harvest is estimated to be coming in at 2.6m hectoliters, a staggering +36% up on 2016 and +23% above the five-year average.

Willi Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB), quipped that with all the possible global wine shortages due to natural disasters such as forest fires, droughts, that maybe Austria could step up.

Klinger was in London on Monday (February 5) for the annual tasting at the Institute of Directors. He recounted that the 2016 vintage had been hit severely by early frosts but that 2017 had “escaped (a similar) catastrophe by 1°C”.

The big vintage would allow Austrian wines to be more competitive, particularly at lower, entry level price points which are important in Austria’s largest export market, Germany.

Klinger went on to outline some of the AWMB initiatives including vineyard mapping, the ‘Ried’ single vineyard and Ortswein, regional/commune designations.  He described the identifying single vineyards as a “tough process”, calling Austria the “Burgundy of the Alps”.

Sceptical of designations and labeling becoming too complicated for wine drinkers, Klinger said this was born out of a desire from producers to be more respectful of terriors, he added: “The world itself is becoming more and more complicated.

"Austria could drink all the wine it produces but basically it imports approximately a third of the wine its population drinks and exports about a third of all the wine it makes."

He said back in 1983 the average price for a bottle of Austrian wine was 83 cents (€0.83). It is now €3, with Germany being €1.80 and the UK around €4.50.

On China, Klinger said the country was predominately a red wine market (85%) whereas Austria is two-thirds white. But he said that the “Austrian red wine revolution” now meant producers were making good quality reds, using modern techniques, mainly from its Blaufränkisch and Zwigelt indigenous varieties.