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FJ Gritsch winery leaves Austria’s Vinea Wachau

Published:  01 December, 2023

FJ Gritsch, the family-run Austrian winery, will leave the Wachau regional winegrowers’ association and instead classify its wines under the DAC pyramid of origin.

The move will come into effect from the 2023 vintage onwards, and is intended to offer more clarity to FJ Gritsch’s international consumers – the winery currently exports to 13 different countries.

According to winemaker Franz-Josef Gritsch, the DAC system also makes more sense from a climate change point of view.

“Vinea Wachau’s three categories follow the traditional Germanic system, which requires a minimum alcohol content for each quality category. This made sense in earlier times when we still had to worry about ripeness but now, with every year that goes by, we feel increasingly that this categorisation does not stand up to climate change. I think it is no longer up to date,” said Gritsch. 

“An alcohol classification says nothing about wine quality. This is particularly true internationally. Our partners and traders in various export markets tell us constantly that it is now obsolete to classify wine by its alcohol level,” added Gritsch.

The Gritsch family has been a member of the Wachau regional winegrowers’ association since it was formed back in 1983. But from the 2023 vintage, Franz-Josef Gritsch's wines will no longer bear the Vinea Wachau designations Federspiel and Smaragd on its labels. Instead, the Wachau winery has decided to classify its wines exclusively using the DAC pyramid of origin.

In 2020, another leading Austrian winery, F.X. Pichler left Vinea Wachau due to a standoff over the use of old designations such as ‘Federspiel’ and ‘Smaragd’.

Vinea Wachau was founded 40 years ago as an area protection association, to secure the Wachau designation of origin. Since the 2020 vintage, Wachau wines with regional typicity have been produced according to the DAC pyramid – regional wine (Gebietswein), village wine (Ortswein) and single vineyard wine (Riedenwein). For the highest single vineyard category, only Grüner Veltliner and Riesling varieties can be used.