Vineyard field

Credit: ÖWM / WSNA

Austria defines legal basis for vineyard classification system

23 August, 2023

Austria has established the legal basis for the official classification of single vineyards, which will see plots defined as Erste Lage (premier cru) and Große Lage (grand cru).

Various private initiatives for classifying single vineyards – known as ‘Rieds’ – have been in place in Austria for many years. Following the preliminary phase, the Wine Law Collective Decree 2023 has now established legal basis for an official, nationwide classification system. The Erste Lage is the first level that a vineyard can attain, once a minimum of five years has elapsed, the vineyard is able to be defined as a Große Lage.

Chris Yorke, CEO of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (Austrian Wine), said: “The Collective Decree 2023 has defined the legal basis for enabling Austrian Rieds to be classed officially according to a standardised system.

“The decision whether to classify Rieds is up to each wine-growing region because the significance of single vineyards differs from region to region,” Yorke added.

Classification is carried out according to a strict list of criteria, with the first vineyard classifications expected in 2025, at the earliest.

For example, the use of “Erste Lage” and “Große Lage” is only permitted on DAC wines from classified vineyards. Furthermore, the wine-growing region from where the wine originates must have defined the three DAC levels of Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (villages wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine). 

The decree also states that Erste Lage and Große Lage can only be used when the wine has been harvested by hand and a lower maximum yield per hectare than the legal limit is met. 

“Establishing an official vineyard classification system at a national level presents considerable challenges. This is why we will be supporting the wine-growing regions with the process step by step over the next few years and continuously sharing our experiences,” Yorke added.

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