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With names like Gruner Veltliner and Blauer Zweigelt, Austrian wines can be intimidating to say out loud. But they’re delicious to drink! They're produced in state-of-the-art wineries guided by Old World traditions.

Viticulture in Austria dates as far back as 700 B.C. The ancient Celts made wine for rituals and for daily consumption, a tradition continued by the conquering Romans and later revitalized by Charlemagne after years of neglect. Austrian viticulture was also influenced by Cistercian monks from Burgundy, who came to Austria in the Middle Ages, bringing grapes and their winemaking skills.

Modern Austrian winemaking has been marked by a concerted legislative initiative to promote quality. For generations, the country’s winemakers made Austria’s unique grapes into traditional wines for local consumption and bulk sales abroad. Today, more internationally traveled and educated winemakers are making state-of-the-art, high-quality wines that bring Austria worldwide recognition.

Winemaking is concentrated in Austria’s eastern regions, which, like Germany, are best known for producing white wines.

The climate of Austria is comparable to the climatic conditions in Burgundy, France. Austria’s wine regions are influenced by Atlantic airstreams from the west, by the continental climate of the Hungarian Plain to the east, and by the Mediterranean to the south. The product of these influences is an early spring followed by a long growing season that is warm and dry – so dry that vineyards on rocky soils require irrigation. The harvest for late-ripening grapes such as Riesling frequently extends into late October or early November, as a long, cold winter kicks in.

Grüner Veltliner, which covers more than a third of Austria’s vineyard acreage, is justly identified with Austrian wine culture. It makes wines that can be fresh and lively, or concentrated and intense. Always refreshing, it typically shows nuances of grapefruit and citrus, with a touch of fresh, cracked pepper. It is a delightfully versatile companion to a wide range of cuisines.

A popular red varietal, Blauer Zweigelt, is velvety and light-bodied with characteristic cherry tones and soft tannins. A fresh and fruity wine, it shares similarities with the Gamay wines of Beaujolais.

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