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The cool conditions in Austria's mountain locations have long been a handicap for viticulture. This is now changing: the wines from there are becoming more and more interesting. Yet quality viticulture is only just taking off here.

© OeWM WSNA

The wine region Bergland Austria unites the wines of the provinces of Carinthia, Upper Austria, Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg under one roof, whereby Carinthia is included but also retains its name as a wine-growing region. A total of 220 ha are planted in the Bergland - 123 in Carinthia, 78 in Upper Austria, 14 in Tyrol and 5 in Vorarlberg. In the city of Salzburg there is currently only one tiny vineyard on the Mönchsberg, whose 500 bottles are sold for charity.

Austria's alpine wine-growing regions often have a centuries-old wine-growing tradition, as many place and field names still indicate. In Carinthia, viticulture has been documented since Roman times, in Upper Austria it was an important economic factor. The market town of Aschach on the Danube, for example, has a grape in its coat of arms. And in Vorarlberg, the area under vines was once a hundred times larger than today, at around 500 ha.

Climatic changes such as the Little Ice Age, the phylloxera crisis and the fall of import duties on wines caused viticulture in the mountainous region to come to an almost complete standstill in the 19th century. In modern times, however, quality viticulture in particular has become really interesting again since climate change has become clearly noticeable. As a result, the number of wineries is growing quite rapidly.

We were surprised ourselves at how many producers submitted tasting samples, especially since we had never heard of almost all of them before. This is likely to be the case for most wine lovers, but probably not for much longer. Because the naturally cooler climate of the mountain locations, until now a handicap in viticulture, is slowly developing into an advantage. High sites are increasingly sought after. The highest vineyard in Austria is in the Tyrolean Oberinntal at over 1,000 m above sea level.

Even if at the moment they are mostly only available directly from the producers or in the local gastronomy: Presumably not much time will pass before some of Austria's most exciting wines come from the mountains.

At least to a certain extent, this can already be seen today. Although most of the wines are on a palatable everyday level, some Sauvignon or Chardonnay, for example, already easily compete with good Styrian representatives. We were even more surprised by some of the red wines. Some of the Pinot Noirs in particular stood out very positively. We are very excited about the future development of these wines.

The number of organic wineries is also pleasing. More than a quarter of all wines tasted are certified organic, which is surprising in view of the undoubtedly more difficult conditions for winegrowing in the mountains. The fact that here, as in nearby South Tyrol, fungus-resistant grape varieties are increasingly found is only consistent against this background.

We have tasted a good 130 wines from Carinthia and the Bergland Austria region in the past weeks, of which we present the best here. As always, you will find links to all the wines, the tasting notes and the producers at the end of the lists.

In Focus: Bergland Austria Sauvignon Blanc

In Focus: Bergland Austria Chardonnay

In Focus: Bergland Austria Pinot Blanc

In Focus: Bergland Austria Riesling

In Focus: Bergland Austria Grüner Veltliner

In Focus: Bergland Austria Cuvée / Gemischter Satz

In Focus: Bergland Austria Other grape varieties

In Focus: Bergland Austria Pinot Noir

In Focus: Bergland Austria Other grape varieties

In Focus: Bergland Austria Cuvées