Various private initiatives to classify individual vineyards – known as “Rieds” – have been in place in Austria for many years. After the preliminary phase, the Collective Decree on Wine Law 2023 has now established the legal basis for an official nationwide classification system. The Erste Lage is the first level that a vineyard can reach. Once a minimum of five years has passed, the vineyard can be defined as Große Lage.
Chris Yorke, CEO of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, said: “Collective Decree 2023 established the legal basis for Austrian Rieds to be officially classified according to a standardized system.
“The decision to rank Rieds is up to each wine region, as the importance of individual vineyards differs from region to region,” Yorke added.
The ranking is carried out according to a list of strict criteria, with the first vineyard rankings expected in 2025 at the earliest.
For example, the use of the terms “Erste Lage” and “Große Lage” is only authorized on DAC wines from classified vineyards. In addition, the wine region where the wine originates must have defined the three DAC levels Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (village wine) and Riedenwein (single vineyard wine).
The decree also specifies that Erste Lage and Große Lage can only be used when the wine has been harvested by hand and a maximum yield per hectare below the legal limit is achieved.
“Establishing an official vineyard classification system at the national level presents considerable challenges. That is why we will support wine regions step by step in this process over the next few years and continuously share our experiences,” added Yorke.