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Germany – nation #1 for Austrian wine exports

With almost 50% of sales, Germany remains Austria’s most important country for wine exports. But what makes the German wine market tick? What opportunities and what potential does the German market offer for Austrian wine? And the important question: is there actually such a single entity as ‘the German wine market’?

In 2018, Austria’s winegrowers exported 33.9 million litres of wine with a total value of 83.9 million euros to our northerly neighbour. This means in terms of volume that almost two thirds of Austria’s wine exports went to Germany. Last year, the volume increased again over the first ten months by 9.7%, compared to the same period in 2018.

The subject of export becomes extremely significant for all wine producers of a certain size. For many growers, Germany is the country to which exports are initially made. There are many reasons for this: as a member nation of the EU there are no customs duties levied by Germany and there aren’t any complicated structures such as the ‘three-tier system’ (consisting of importer, distributor & retailer) in the USA. And Germany has no state-run monopoly market like, for example, in Sweden. A shared language and geographic proximity also ease the way for the export adventure.

Winemarket Germany: consumption

Generally speaking, wine consumption in Germany is declining slightly. According to statistics published in February 2020 by the Deutsches Weininstitut (German Wine Institute), per capita consumption of wine dropped to 23.8 litres of wine and sparkling wine in the past wine industry accounting year with a total of around 20 million hectolitres. This meant a decrease of .6 litres compared to the previous year. Consumption was broken down as follows:

  • 11.4 litres imported wine
  • 8.7 litres German wine
  • 3.3 litres sparkling wine

A homogenous market?

For all wine producers that are already exporting to Germany and those who are interested in doing so, it must be clearly stated that the competitive pressure is very great and that ‘the German market’ as a thing does not exist. Sascha Speicher, editor-in-chief of Meiningers Sommelier magazine, was able to refute the illusion of a uniform German export market in the extremely interesting lecture he delivered at the recent AWMB Marketing Day in Vienna. Rather, Germany encompasses a number of markets with sometimes highly varied consumer groups, fundamentally different wine preferences and a wide range of price sensitivity. Therefore, when exporting to Germany, it is imperative to clearly understand the varying segments of the market and to focus one’s primary activities on those German sub-markets in which Austrian wine can do well because of its general quality and expressive stylistic nature.

Three submarkets: a quick glance

We can review some basic differences using three examples:

The capital city Berlin with over 3.6 million inhabitants is an extremely competitive market, but quite open to many styles and diverse origins of wine. It is important to pay attention to the highly active sommelier culture in Berlin. In addition, Berlin has the largest alternative wine scene in Germany.

Munich – and with it the state of Bavaria – is probably the most important market for Austrian wine in Germany. In addition to the marked regional affinity for Austrian products, geographic proximity also offers clear advantages. It is essential to maintain the high level of exposure here.

The Rhine-Main region around the powerhouse city Frankfurt am Main is an attractive market that could still be expanded. This is also a financially robust area with sophisticated buyers who are happy to pay the corresponding price for high-quality products. Austrian wines are not as well known here as they are in Bavaria.

Promising trends for Austrian wine

The general trends that are currently emerging in the German markets hold positive signs for the Austrian wine industry: although wine consumption is declining, wine of higher quality is being consumed (a definite trend towards the premium class). In addition, customers are becoming increasingly curious about the origins and – associated with it – the provenance and essential nature of the wines. Greater environmental awareness and thus heightened demand for organically or certified sustainably produced wines also provides promising opportunities.

Press release

Austrian Wine Marketing Board

Ms Sabine Bauer-Wolf
Head of Communications

Mr Georg Schullian
Teamleader Press, PR & Corporate Design

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