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Austria’s wine exports 2015 stagnate due to low harvest yields

Following eight years of uninterrupted growth, Austria’s wine export revenues declined slightly for the first time in 2015. According to Statistik Austria, the wine exports 2015 amount to 48 million liters and 143 million €. This comes as no surprise to professionals, because the problematic 2014 vintage – and its reduced volume – did affect export statistics, even if the decrease in sales of 1.1% compared with 2014 turned out to be less than had been feared.

A picture shows the export graphic 1985-2015, © Austrian Wine
Export graphic 1985-2015, © Austrian Wine

Slump in sparkling wine sector, increase for bottled Qualitätswein

However, the export figures for 2015 do display some peculiarities that merit closer investigation. For instance, in the sector of bottled Qualitätswein, 2015 brought a substantial increase once more. Especially red wines pleasantly surprised with a growth of nearly 4 million € (+13.5%). Bulk wines, wines without protected designation of origin, as well as Prädikatsweine on the other hand showed a decline. Figures also show full-fledged slumps in exports of sparkling wine, and above all with Perlwein (lightly sparkling wine), which could only be explained by industry insiders with speculations about the performance of certain ‘industrial’ frizzante products.

Export growth in non-EU member countries

In examining the markets it is striking to see a 10% growth in revenue among non-EU member countries, while figures for the EU-28 indicate a decline of 4.8%.  Above all, negative figures for Sekt, frizzante and bulk wine clouded the results for Germany, which otherwise showed a thoroughly positive development. Export revenues 2015 declined in particular in markets which were previously consistently successful – the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Italy – while Great Britain, Belgium and Denmark once again showed strong gains. And outside of the EU, positive surprises were in store from Switzerland, the USA, Norway, Hong Kong and Russia, while declines were reported in China and Japan.

Scarce harvest 2016

Given these developments, a particular source of some discomfort emerges because of further supply difficulties that await with the 2016 harvest. It is true that Austria is looking forward to an average-sized crop and good quality from Grüner Veltliner, but in the red wine department, particularly with the variety Zweigelt, and with Steiermark’s regional specialties, the severe late frost at the end of April leaves a less than rosy outlook.

Strong demand for wines from marvellous vintage 2015

Extremely positive stimuli are coming via the great demand for wines of the 2015 vintage, which are now gradually becoming available. The level of interest for these marvellous red and white premium bottlings can be strongly felt after the VieVinum fair in June, both domestically and on the international markets. Some of the most sought-after white and red wines will only be released initially as of autumn 2016, and further into 2017. With these, Austrian wine will write new chapters of its success story even in difficult times, especially since international appraisals and reviews of this exceptional vintage cannot help but offer a degree of consolation for the unfortunate weather phenomena – even in the Steiermark.


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