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Back to the Future: Austrian wine in New York

December 28, 2015

Annual Austrian wine tasting 

October 21st, 2015 – that exact day Michael J. Fox arrives in the future of New York in the 80ies movie “Back to the Future”. And exactly that date was marked for 70 sommeliers, importers, restaurateurs, and wine experts as not to be miss the ‘Vertikale’, which is the annual Austrian wine tasting in New York. This fine event took place at one of New York’s most exclusive addresses, the ‘Le Bernardin’. What people were tasting and talking about? It was all about Riesling. Riesling from Austria.

Do you remember some of the predicted gadgets in the movie? Actually, many of them have become reality: cars that run with bio-waste, intelligent textiles, tablets, personalized drones, etc. What Hollywood was not able to predict back in the 80ies was the impressive success story of Austrian wine. Today even the most exquisite restaurants have Austrian wines on their menu. Exports of Austrian wine to the United States increased by 20 % in 2014 and reached around 20 million USD at the end of the year. The first six months of 2015 have already risen to a volume of EUR 10 Million. The United States of America have become the third most important export market for Austria, right after Germany and Switzerland. Willi Klinger, CEO of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board confirms that the US will soon be the second most important market for exports from Austria.

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board and Advantage Austria in New York had extended an invitation to a pre-selected crowd of wine experts in the New York area, and 70 of them came. They came, they tasted, and they were stunned by the excellent Austrian Riesling wines that were offered. The growing area for Austrian Riesling grapes only represents 4 % of the whole cultivable land in Austria. Rumor has it, Austrian Rieslings are sweet. But those rumors got squashed. Because Austrian Rieslings are not sweet wines at all, and gladly the invited experts agreed on that. The Riesling tasting was moderated and led by the head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Willi Klinger, and complemented by the expertise of a well-known American wine journalist, a prominent New York restaurant owner, a renowned American author of wine books, and a distinguished sommelier from Germany. Eric Asimov who had recently called Austrian Rieslings as ‘a reservoir of boundless pleasure’ was amongst the wine connoisseurs in the audience, as well as Stuart Pigott, known as being a big supporter of Austrian wine right from the start.

This extraordinary tasting was followed by the Austrian ‘Magnum Party 5.0’. More than 90 Magnum bottles of astonishing Austrian wines were tasted at the Craft Bar, and more than 200 local wine professionals came to get a taste of at least some of them.

‘The export volume of Austrian wine amounts to 20 million USD which represents only 0.25% of all Austrian exports to the US – altogether Austria exported well over 8 billion USD this year’, says Michael Friedl, Austrian Trade Commissioner in New York. ‘Although the financial value of Austrian wine exports is relatively small Austrian wine marks the glamorous tip of the iceberg of Austrian produce. Austria has been renowned when it comes to the automotive industry and machinery, metals and metals processing. But when it comes to Austrian wine, this is one of the most delightful products that helps building a positive image of Austria while pleasing your sense of taste, and as such produces a positive connotation with our country. Inspired by this pleasant experience the consumer gets curious about what else Austria has to offer!’

Austrian food exports amounted to nearly 60 million USD in the first half of 2015 which is an increase of more than 50% compared to 2014. The specialty food segment is of utmost interest and importance for Austrian companies as they produce organic and GMO-free. Pickled vegetables, cheese, chocolate, and innovative high-protein food from Austria are healthy alternatives to the traditional American snacks. ‘It takes a brilliant marketing strategy to not only enter the US market but manage to stay there. Americans are already masters in story-telling, but we Europeans are getting there’, states Magdalena Suppan, Business Development Manager for food and beverages at the Austrian Trade Commission in New York. Austrian specialty food is not only of the highest quality and taste but moreover healthy and above all produced in an ecofriendly way. ‘We would love to see more Austrian products on the American market. It not only helps create a positive and modern image of Austria as a lifestyle nation in the 21st century. It forms a nonpareil identity and recognition value, and as such may increase and ensure exports from Austria’, she adds.

Magdalena Suppan