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Austrian Wine Wins in Times of Crisis

February 17, 2010

Over the past year, Austrian wine has been very successful despite tough economic times. 

The present success of Austrian wine was partly influenced by the big harvest in 2008, which led to higher barrel wine exports in 2009. “Another reason is that lower price segments were preferred by consumers,” explains Willi Klinger, General Manager of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board. In terms of export value, the record 112 million Euros reached in 2008 was almost matched again (- 0.8%). The driving force behind these positive figures was strong growth in Austria’s two most important wine export markets, Germany and Switzerland.

Because of the continuing weakness of the US Dollar, the economic crisis, and the liquidity problems of some important trade partners, the painful drop in wine exports to the US during the first half of 2009 could not be completely made up for during the second half of the year. Austria exported 1.6 million liters of wine to the U.S. in 2009, which generated revenues of $9.8 million. The U.S. remains Austria’s third biggest wine export market (6.2%) behind Germany (58.4%) and Switzerland (12.3%).

Chart: Wine Export Crisis Proof: 1985-2008/2009

Chart: Wine Export Crisis-Proof: 1985-2008/2009 <br /> Copyrights: ÖWM 

By 2012 the U.S. is expected to become the largest wine consumer in the world, overtaking France and Italy (see: IWSR Study ). Although Austria represents only one percent of the world’s wine production, Austrian wines are very much recognized by American consumers. Especially Austrian’s most famous grape “Grüner Veltliner” can be found in retail wine stores and top restaurants around the country. Additionally, Austrian wines are more present than ever thanks to media coverage, which also has contributed to the continious success in the U.S. Here are a few examples of what the wine critics of major American newspapers and magazines have written about Austrian wine in 2009:

· Eric Asimov, New York Times wine critic, who discovered the Austrian red grape variety Blaufränkisch and the Viennese wine Gemischter Satz .

· Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune wine critic, who writes about how Austrian wines pair well with Asian food

· Lettie Teague, Food & Wine Magazine wine critic, who traveled to the Wachau region and met with famous winemakers F.X. Pichler, Knoll, and Bründlmayer to discuss Grüner Veltliner .

In 2010 the Austrian Wine Marketing Board will host the first series of large Austrian wine tastings in the U.S., taking place May 3rd in San Francisco and May 5th in New York City. The tastings will present all major Austrian winemakers together with their American importers. For more details, please contact Ms. Stephanie Artner at the Austrian Trade Commission in New York (