Rigorous selection and salvaging were the name of the game this year.
Throughout most regions, rain and cold temperatures during flowering resulted in couloure, while hailstorms in July lead to significant yield loss, particularly in Styria and Vienna.
Also heavy September rains in the Kremstal, Kamptal and Wachau sparked widespread, stubborn fungus.
‘We knew the botrytis would come and we had to react quickly, especially for Riesling, which has a thinner skin than Grüner Veltliner,’ said Wachau winemaker Rudi Pichler.
Saving the day – and some of the season – was a sunny autumn with warm days and cool nights, particularly in early October. Ripeness and aromatic freshness were brought to grapes throughout most regions.
For the prized Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines, long periods of dryness prevented significant quantities of botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, from developing.
‘The quality is very good but the quantity this year is way down – around 60% from last year,’ said winemaker Gerhard Kracher.
Austria’s overall harvest total for 2009 is expected to be at around 2.3m hl., around 20% less than in 2008.