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Austrian Wine Blessing and Award of 2016 Bacchus Prize

On 3rd November, the Esterházy baroque castle in Eisenstadt was the magnificent setting for the Austrian Wine Blessing to celebrate this year’s vintage, and it was officially blessed by Eisenstadt diocesan Bishop Ägidius J. Zsifkovics. The consecrational wine was a Grüner Veltliner from Burgenland, which was baptised “Xuntos”. As part of the ceremony, the coveted Bacchus Prize was awarded in both national and international categories. The 30 year anniversary of the founding of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board was a further special occasion for celebration.

The picture shows the Austrian Wine Blessing and Award of 2016 Bacchus Prize.
FLTR: Birgit Perl, Johannes Schmuckenschlager, Andrä Rupprechter, Frank Hensel, Ägidius J. Zsifkovics, Christina Hugl, Lynne Sherriff MW, Anna Reichardt, Willi Klinger, Hans Niessl, Andreas Liegenfeld, Verena Dunst, © Austrian Wine/Anna Stöcher

This vintage saw: Devastating frost nights at the end of April, and many hail storms during the summer months which caused enormous damage to viticulture especially in Styria and Burgenland. The choice of “Xuntos” as the baptismal name comes from the Galician for “together” as difficult times call for everybody involved to join forces. Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter, State Governor Hans Niessl, State Councillor Verena Dunst, Viticultural Association President Johannes Schmuckenschlager, and AWMB Managing Director Willi Klinger all tasted the first drops of this symbolic young wine, which was poured by Austrian Wine Queen, Christina I.

Frank Hensel: Promoting quality and promoting Austrian wine

The Bacchus Prize is traditionally awarded during the Austrian Wine Blessing for special services to Austrian wine. Frank Hensel, Executive Board Chairman of REWE International AG, won the coveted award in the national category. His many years of commitment have paved the way for increasing numbers of Austrian quality wines to access the shelves of REWE AG, whose wide range now reflects the diversity of the Austrian wine scene. For many years he was also constantly driven to consolidate and expand partnerships with Austrian winegrowers. The online portal www.weinfreunde.com finally saw the creation of an important, modern sales tool which currently showcases more than 400 Austrian wines on the German market.

Lynne Sherriff: Master of Wine, wine consultant and lecturer

The South African, Lynne Sherriff, MW received the honours in the international category for her decades of international promotional work on behalf of Austrian wine. This polyglot prize winner has acquired comprehensive expertise over three decades of activity in the wine industry, spanning cellar technology, trade and distribution, and consulting. These qualifications, and her Master of Wine award which she gained in 1993, ensured that the honour of chairing the Institute of Masters of Wine was conferred upon her from 2010 to 2012. She worked on behalf of the image of Austrian wine by organising a tasting in 1986 in Stellenbosch, and since then she has been passionately committed to it. Sherriff has taught for 25 years at the Wine Academies in Rust, Geisenheim (D) and Wädenswil (CH), enabling thousands of diploma students to enjoy her lessons. For this work she was awarded the title of “Honorary Wine Academic” by the Austrian Wine Academy.

30 Years of Austrian Wine Marketing

The 30th anniversary of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) was also celebrated as part of this year's Wine Blessing. Founded in response to the wine scandal in 1986, the Board has promoted wine culture by continually working towards ever higher quality and by promoting a far-sighted sectoral marketing strategy to national and international acclaim, thereby sustainably adding value to Austrian wine. Today the wine industry in Austria is of considerable importance for the economy, accounting for 75,000 jobs and generating Euro 3.6 billion in gross value added in 2014, despite the small harvest for that year. The principal reason for this is the excellent reputation that Austria has developed internationally, despite only being a small wine country. Success at the top levels of fine dining from New York to Tokyo has been key to this. This is also reflected in the price: The average export price per litre more than tripled between 2003 and 2015.

Celebrate successes and stay in the fast lane

A happy thirtieth birthday video saw wine luminaries from all over the world congratulate the AWMB and enthuse on their personal reasons for loving Austrian Wine. This included the Austrian-American celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck; the British “grande dame" of wine, Jancis Robinson; and the Japanese wine guru Katsuyuki Tanaka.  However, the AWMB does not see this recognition of its work as an opportunity to rest on its laurels. Instead it is further motivation to take the Austrian wine success story on to new heights with enthusiasm over future decades.


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