This king of white wine varieties is thought to historically derive from a wild vine that flourished in the Rhine Valley, and has been selected and developed over the years. In Austria, the varietal ripens along the Danube

Germany, Rhine area

Natural crossing of Weisser Heunisch and a Frankish variety (Traminer seedling).

2,035.80 ha; 4.6%

White wine grape variety


The earliest documentation of the name was in 1435, in Rüsselsheim.


The variety was probably taken from wild vines on the Oberrhein (the Upper Rhine). Roter Riesling is a red grape variation, a bud mutation of the Weißer Riesling. The Weißer Riesling is not related to the Welschriesling variety.

Vineyard area

This variety was brought from the Rhine to the Danube in Austria and is now – next to the Grüner Veltliner – the most important white wine variety in the Wachau. In premium vineyard sites, especially in the wine growing regions Wachau, Kremstal, Traisental, Kamptal as well as Wien (Vienna), Wagram and Weinviertel, the Riesling yields highly ripe grapes because it is a late-maturing variety. The vineyard area for Riesling increased steadily between 1999 and 2020. In Germany, Riesling is the most widely grown white variety for all quality levels of wine.

A picture shows grapes of the grape variety Riesling.

Important ampelographic features

© Austrian Wine / Oberleithner

Important ampelographic features


medium-sized, circular, with five lobes, coarse surface, very hairy underside

Grape cluster

small but dense, cylindrical, shouldered, usually no wings, small yellowish-green grapes with scar marks



very early
early to middle
middle to late
very late

Significance & conditions

Riesling is a world-renowned variety, that along with Grüner Veltliner enjoys great prominence and importance in the winegrowing regions along the Danube river and its tributaries, an area quite rich in weathered primary rock soils. There is good reason that Riesling is called the king of white wines.

The late ripening grape is highly demanding in the vineyards, and is sensitive to grape stalk necrosis, stalk rot and grape Botrytis. The Botrytis is mainly undesirable - except for noble rot, for Auslese wines - because it can ruin the typical varietal aromas.

Area under vine in Austria
(as a proportion of the variety’s total area)

Click on the wine origin in the list for a breakdown into more specific regions of origin.

Total area in Austria:

The Leithaberg and Neusiedlersee wine-growing regions overlap by almost 160 ha (Rieds Hausberg and Neuberg), according to the Austrian Wine Law. This means that the listed area under vine in Burgenland is 160 ha less than the actual total area across all wine-growing regions in Burgenland.

A picture shows a hand holding a glass of white wine.

Characteristics of the wine

© Austrian Wine / Blickwerk Fotografie

Characteristics of the wine

Young Riesling wines exude charming fruitiness and flavour, and can develop into great and complex wines through aging. For these, notes of stone fruit are dominant and include peach, apricot and exotic fruits. Wines especially from the terroirs of the Wachau, Kremstal, Kamptal and Traisental reflect a minerality reminiscent of slate or flint. Riesling ripens slowly and reaches the highest quality as aged wines with rose-like scent. Depending on the level of ageing, they develop a pleasurable petrol tone, something that perhaps not all wine consumers like. When the late harvest grapes are infected with noble rot, then special wines are the result – Auslese and Beerenauslese styles with outstanding quality.

Source varietal specifications: Höhere Bundeslehranstalt und Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau (Federal College and Federal Office for Viticulture, Oenology and Fruit Growing) in Klosterneuburg, “Austria’s Qualitätswein grape varieties and their clones“ („Österreichische Qualitätsweinrebsorten und deren Klone“), 2nd, reviewed edition, September 2015

Source area under vine: Calculation by Austrian Wine based on data from BML/IACS (as at 28 June 2023). Moving annual total (MAT) from June 2022 to June 2023.



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