Climate change means new opportunities in Austria for winegrowers: more area, and new grape varieties. But at the same time, rising temperatures also mean more artificial irrigation.
On the shores of Lake Neusiedl lies Rust, one of the most traditional wine-producing towns in Austria. Already in the Middle Ages, the winegrowers of Rust could cover, with their wines, a dense commercial network that reached as far as the lands of present-day Bavaria and Poland. In 1524, Queen Mary of Hungary granted winegrowers in Rust the privilege of ‘burning’ a large ‘R’ into their wine barrels, as a kind of early Protected Designation of Origin.
The effects of climate change are affecting the wine sector. Due to rising temperatures, the taste of many wines is changing, in Austria. Thus, due to rising temperatures, the taste of many wines in Austria is changing. For this reason, some winegrowers cultivate new grape varieties.
“Often, in August, here, it is very hot. Since I was young, the harvest season has been brought forward by six weeks. I cannot understand that there are those who do not recognize climate change in this,” says winegrower Günter triebaumer.
When the harvest is brought forward, with the summer heat, the wine loses acidity and its flavor is less fresh. The relatively unknown white grape variety Furmint has come to the rescue.
“The Furmint grape is late-ripening. During the heat of August, when other early-ripening varieties store sugar and their acidity is low, the Furmint grape is safe, as it ripens later,” Günter Triebaumer.
“More and more Austrian winegrowers are turning to the Furmint grape, due to climate change. Its cultivated area has tripled in the last eight years. Internationally, Austrian wine is increasingly considered more environmentally friendly and of high quality The value of their exports has reached a new high,” explains Euronews journalist Johannes Pleschberger.
“Austrian wine captivates with its fruitiness and smoothness. It’s not too acid. It’s very nice,” says a young German tourist named Janine.
“In terms of exports, the Grüner Veltliner and Riesling varieties are the two largest representatives of Austria,” says Francesco Nardo, a worker at a store specializing in the sale of wine in Vienna.
Today, the white grape variety Grüner Veltliner occupies a third of the area of Austria. However, the heat could cause many viticulturists to turn their backs on it, despite its export success.
“Perhaps there will be fewer Grüner Veltliners like today, and instead there will be slightly stronger Grüner Veltliners,” says Michaela Griesser, a professor at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna.
According to an expert in viticulture, wine is in full swing throughout Europe.
“There are already some vineyards in Sweden. So, it can be said that the growing areas will shift. Perhaps in those central places, where it is then too hot, other products are grown and no wine is produced,” adds Michaela Griesser.
Until now, in many places in Austria it was too cold for viticulture. Climate change means, today, an opportunity for the alpine country: more surface, and new varieties.
In addition to Furmint, winegrower Günter Triebaumer has recently started using another heat-resistant variety: Petit Manseng.
“What I’ve said about the Furmint, about the heat of August, applies even more to the Petit Manseng variety. In other words, the Petit Manseng is still green as grass in August, and hasn’t accumulated any sugar yet, so the August heat doesn’t affect it,” concludes viticulturist Günter Triebaumer.
In addition to varietal changes, however, another transformation is affecting many viticulturists. Climate change is increasing the need for artificial irrigation.