Vineyards have been encouraged in the eastern Danubian regions of Austria since the Roman occupation of the third century and probably before. Their vintages, however, have had an up and down history in foreign trade, particularly because under the Habsburg Empire Austrian wines faced stiff competition from Hungarian growers, whose vines were usually much more productive. A very serious scandal over adulterated wine in 1985 put a virtual stop to Austrian exports for a few years. Even today, Austrians consume close to 70 percent of their domestic crop.
   Wine has long been closely associated with Austrians’ daily life, celebrations, and entertainment. Favored varietals are the traditional Grüner Veltliner, a white wine with a faintly green-yellow tinge, and the Riesling. Quality red wines have been more difficult to achieve; Austrians looked to the southern Tyrol and the Hungarian-style wines grown in the Burgenland for them—but the rich-colored Zweigelt has begun to fill this gap. Several regions of Lower Austria now lay claim to outstanding white wine production, and fine growths now produce excellent vintages in Styria.
   Vineyards cover around 127,000 acres of land in the country, chiefly in Lower Austria and the Burgenland. Approximately 70 percent of this crop goes into 22 varieties of white wine. Thirteen varieties of red wine account for the remaining 30 percent of production. There are approximately 6,000 estates, many of which are very small and will sell directly from their cellars. Roughly 700 hectares in the city of Vienna itself are turned over to cultivating both red and white wine; appropriate soils for both lie within the city limits. Traditionally Vienna wine was very unpretentious, of no high quality, but younger vintners are working to change that. This same cohort has begun serious experimentation with organic varietals.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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