Frost Damage in Austria's Wine-growing Regions

May 4, 2016 - The Austrian Winegrowers’ Association announces that after the late frost in the night of Monday/Tuesday last week and two further cold waves, additional episodes of frost exerted a devastating effect on all wine-growing regions of Austria.

The picture shows frost damage in Austria's vineyards, © DI Verena Klöckl, LK Bgld
Frost damage in Austria's vineyards, © DI Verena Klöckl, LK Bgld

Along with radiating frosts due to clear nights and the development of cold air masses, there were multiple examples of frost damage from frigid airflows, whereby in many regions higher-situated and qualitatively superior vineyards were severely damaged. Attempts were made in many areas to combat the frost by means of smoke-pots and air-swirling with helicopters – such emergency measures were able to help only in places where temperatures remained close to the freezing point.

Below is an attempt to estimate the percentage of vineyard area affected by the freeze, based on reports of winery consultants and the Federal Wine Control Board.

Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)
Western Weinviertel: 20%
Eastern Weinviertel: 40%
Southern Weinviertel: 20%
Wachau: 20%, of which the most severe damage was recorded in the western Wachau (90%), due to cold airflows
Kamptal: 40%
Kremstal, Wagram: 30%
Traisental: 15%
Carnuntum: 60%
Thermenregion: 40%
Niederösterreich overall: 30–40%

Burgenland
Seewinkel: 70%
Leithagebirge, Eisenstadt: 50%
Mittelburgenland: 70%
Eisenberg/Südburgenland: 70%
Burgenland overall: approximately 70%

Steiermark (Styria)
The first night of frost caused the loss of some 1,000 hectares; most severely affected were the subregions Weststeiermark and Südsteiermark. On Wednesday heavy snow fell in all wine-growing regions, accompanied by two more nights of frost; due to these conditions, current estimates are forecasting a 90% loss in yield.

Wien (Vienna)
Because of the proximity of its vineyards to urban areas, Vienna was less severely affected: 10%

The abovementioned numbers are estimates that may still vary.

According to Austrian hail-insurance statistics, approximately 11,000 hectares of vineyard (some 25% of Austria’s area under vines) are insured against frost damage.