“Qualitätswein” (quality wine), which can be identified by the Federal Inspection Number and the characteristic red-white-red banderole on the cap, forms the central pillar of the Austrian wine industry’s marketing strategy. Following the Romanic system of wine legislation, these wines are primarily defined by their geographical origin, with a smaller and more specific geographical indication on the label representing a higher quality and more pronounced expression of the wine’s origin.
When it comes to origin marketing, Austria’s winegrowing policy and the AWMB have developed a dual strategy that allows each winemaker plenty of scope for innovation whilst at the same time establishing some archetype wine styles with designated origin representing regionally typical Austrian wines:
Diversity & flexibility
The strategy maintains diversity (40 grape varieties, all styles) and allows individual producers broad flexibility within the framework of the generic designations of origin: every Qualitätswein features a designation of origin on the label, detailing the federal state in which the wine was produced. Consumers can enjoy a fascinating diversity of wines in this category, ranging from fresh and fruity wines made from aromatic grape varieties to high-quality branded wines and iconic cuvée blends.
Qualitätswein from generic winegrowing regions
Developing a regionally typical profile (DAC)
The DAC regulation system provides definitions of regionally typical Qualitätswein styles from specific winegrowing regions. Each individual region may determine one, two or multiple wine styles that are typical of their specific region. However, the regional strategy needs to be agreed with the National Wine Committee. So far, 16 of the 18 specific Austrian winegrowing regions have acquired DAC status (as at October 2020).
Regionally typical Qualitätswein from specific winegrowing regions
Wachau DACKremstal DACKamptal DACWagramTraisental DACWeinviertel DACThermenregionCarnuntum DACNeusiedlersee DACLeithaberg DACMittelburgenland DACEisenberg DACRosalia DACRuster Ausbruch DACVulkanland Steiermark DACSüdsteiermark DACWeststeiermark DACWiener Gemischter Satz DAC
International wine legislation
Within the international wine industry, a distinction can be made between Romanic wine legislation and the Germanic system. While Germanic wine legislation (e.g. in Austria prior to the introduction of the DAC system) tends to place the emphasis on the grape variety, Romanic wine legislation classifies wines based on their origin (e.g. in Italy, France, Spain and Austria (the latter since the introduction of the DAC system)). As well as implying the use of certain grape varieties in a wine, a designation of origin also gives an impression of the wine’s style. This enables consumers to know exactly what type of wine to expect if they choose a wine of specific origin.
An example from the international world of wine
According to the Romanic system, the same information can be expressed by a simple “I drank a Chianti”.
Insight into the Romanic wine system
Origin is unique in its own right
In contrast to wines that are defined by their grape variety alone, wines named and defined by their origin are unique in their own right. Austria experienced sad times at the end of the '90s when a large amount of Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch was being imported from Hungary. Back then, Austrian consumers primarily chose wines based on the variety of grape, which meant that they would drink these imported wines believing them to be Austrian. In order to prevent misunderstandings like these, Austria began using the Romanic system to make it easier to tell Austrian wines from others. This system emphasised specific designations of origin on the labels – after all, there are Grüner Veltliner wines from Hungary and New Zealand, but only one Weinviertel DAC in the Weinviertel region. Only Grüner Veltliner that is grown here and vinified using traditional methods will have the Weinviertel DAC ’s characteristic spiciness and freshness.
When factors such as grape variety, production methods and ageing style are brought together, the resulting wine is unmistakeably typical of that particular region. In Italy, these specifications are agreed by wine industry groups – comprising, for example, grape growers, wine producers and traders in the Chianti region – based on the principle of interprofessional self-determination. These committees are composed of wine industry professionals from different branches of the industry, such as wine production and marketing. The great advantage of self-determination is the fact that the professional groups are familiar with their own region and its wine, so they are in a prime position to determine how to best differentiate their wines and ensure that their typical wines are truly unique.
These interprofessional bodies in Austria are called Regional Wine Committees and they exist for the regions of Steiermark, Wien, Burgenland, the eight specific regions that make up Niederösterreich, and Klosterneuburg. A National Wine Committee also serves as an intermediary between the Regional Committees and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Furthermore, an Austrian Sekt Committee was founded in 2013, comprising representatives from the domestic sparkling wine industry. The Austrian Wine Marketing Board is working closely with all committees so that, together, they can find the best strategy for marketing Austrian wines in all four corners of the world.