Sustainability in Austrian Vineyards

An overview of the different systems of sustainable viticulture in Austria.

A picture shows a vineyard in Weinviertel
Vineyard in Weinviertel, © AWMB/Anna Stöcher

For many years now, sustainability has been an important theme in matters of agriculture. And winegrowing is an extremely concentrated and highly focused form of agriculture, since it involves the careful application of substances dedicated to the protection and care of plants, along with fertilisers in widely varied forms – not to mention its use of many machines and the energy they consume, as well as requiring a great deal of water. Meeting the goals of sustainable viticulture demands that resources be conserved as much as possible, and that production must transpire with the lowest possible level of emissions. And viewing sustainable viticulture from the holistic perspective, its scope expands to include the production chain, the distribution chain and finally the consumer as well.  

After the Second World War until the end of the 1970s a backlog demand for foodstuffs persisted. During this period, mechanisation underwent significant development, as did the use of new treatments designed to protect plants from disease and pests. These developments contributed to an increase in production, as well as to safeguarding the supply. Particularly in the area of fertilisers, a great accumulated need had had to be met. On the other hand, mistakes were made during this time in the excessive use of technology and chemicals, along with the accompanying ignorance concerning the effects they would have. Only gradually – in the course of a general consciousness-raising in matters of ecology – did a counter-trend develop, through the implementation of practical, environmentally compatible production methods, like:

Integrated viticulture
Organic-biological viticulture
Biological-dynamic viticulture

Methods of production focused more directly upon the sustainable gradually established themselves, methods that will continue to be developed further. 83% of the area under vines in Austria is cultivated with either organic or integrated methods. The specially designed (and recently expired) programme was not applied and activated for only 17% of Austrian vineyards.

A picture shows the allocation of production forms of area and vine.
© AWMB, Grüner Bericht

Author

Ing. Karl Bauer, Krems