The Styrian vineyard country can be divided into three areas, each of which produces typical varieties depending on soil and climatic conditions. A wide range of varieties can be found in Styria, whose distinctive characteristics are attributed to the location and soil on which they grow. These factors provide Styrian wines with their great variety for which they are cherished by wine lovers.
With 2.200 hectares of vineyards under cultivation, this is the largest contiguous viticultural area in Styria; it covers the western part of the district of Leibnitz to the Mur River.
The “South Styrian wine region” produces some of the best-quality white wines in the region and each town or village has its own typical wine in which it takes justifiable pride. The main varieties are Welschriesling and the Sauvignon blanc. These two are followed by Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Morillon (Chardonnay), the early-ripening Müller-Thurgau, Traminer and Gewürztraminer. Muskateller is yet another specialty of the region.
The steepest and highest situated vineyards in Styria are located in the „Sausal“ with its main town of Kitzeck. The steep, dry, slaty soil produces a Rheinriesling of exceptional quality. However, the Müller-Thurgau, Welschriesling, Weißburgunder and other wines grown here are also to be recommended.
Grapes are grown in an altitude of up to 564 m in southern Styria. The mild climate and the steep, stony slopes facing southward provide the natural prerequisites for good quality. Poplars and chestnut trees create an atmosphere reminiscent of southern Europe. The peacefulness of the hilly landscape is only interrupted by the clattering of the Styrian windmill known as „Klapotetz“.
The most famous wine root, the „Südsteirische Weinstraße“, which in part runs along the border to Slovenia, is lined with vineyards that are especially pleasant to visit in autumn, when the countryside is most colorful. The young, incompletely fermented must called „Sturm“ is extremely tasty and best accompanied by roasted chestnuts. In addition to the Südsteirische Weinstraße, there are the Sausaler Weinstraße and Rebenlandstraße.
The Vintners’ School in Silberberg has established a nature trail featuring all the Styrian grape varieties. Wine museums in Kitzeck and Gamlitz Display the history of wine making and in Leutschach the first wine gallery has been opened.
This area extends from the Mur River to the Wechsel Pass and comprises more than 1.400 hectares of vineyards and the largest number of individual operations.
The district of Radkersburg and Feldbach have volcanic soil and the basaltic soil around Klöch produces a Traminer that has won international recognition. Another specialty of the area is Gewürztraminer, which has an even more pronounced bouquet. Other fine wines grown here include Welschriesling, Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Rheinriesling, Müller-Thurgau and above all red wines.
The East Styrian hill country includes the vineyards in the other districts east of the Mur. Vineyards reach altitudes of nearly 600m on the Ringkogel near Hartberg. These are the highest-lying vineyards not only in Styria but anywhere in Austria. The most frequent variety here is Welschriesling but there is also Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder, Rheinriesling and Müller-Thurgau. The production of red wine is also of high importance, with the main variety being Blauer Zweigelt.
Wine routes in this region are the Klöcher Weinstraße, the Südoststeirische Hügelland Weinstraße, the Thermenland Weinstraße and the Oststeirische Römerweinstraße.
This area includes the districts of Greater Graz, Voitsberg and Deutschlandsberg. With is some 500 cultivated hectares it is the smallest of all the wine-growing areas, but the Schilcher grown here is a very special wine. Schilcher is legally protected and can only be made from the Blauer Wildbacherrebe; this is the wine Western Styria is famous for. Other varieties represented here are Müller-Thurgau, Weißburgunder, Welschriesling and Zweigelt.
Setting out from Graz, the Schilcher Wine Route starts in Ligist. Narrow, curvy roads wind their way up from Gundersdorf to Greisdorf and Hochgrail, the home of the rosé-coloured Schilcher. The trail proceeds downhill to Stainz, the starting point of a narrow-gauge steamtrain to Preding. Toward the end of this wine route lie the vineyards in and around Deutschlandsberg and Preding. This is where the ruby-red Schilcher is grown.
The West-Styrian farm and vintners’ houses contribute to the striking scenery along the Schilcher Route.