Austrian Wine Summit proves wine tells its own story

By / Magazine / October 10th, 2019 / 18
Austrian wine summit

Wine should be able to tell the story of where it is from: the people, landscape, culture and history of its home. The recent Austrian Wine Summit, Vineyard Interfaces in the Heart of Europe, could not have better exemplified this idea.

The summit focused on some of the best vineyards on Austria’s eastern borders, which touch the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. They were established after the First World War, at the start of the official dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, often dividing excellent vineyard sites (as well as farms and families) into separate countries. At that time, adversarial governing regimes politically divided and controlled regions for many decades, impacting the development of the wine industry for the next century. For example, wineries in the former Czechoslovakia were nationalized under communism (1948—1989) and the wine industry ceased to develop until after the fall of the regime.

At the summit, attendees visited Austrian wine-growing regions at the borders, accompanied by historians and university professors, who gave insight into the historical development of each region.

We sat at the Grenztisch, a border table located in Austria and Slovenia. The border was guarded until the 1990s, and the Grenztisch, established in 2013, represents a desire to reconnect.

In Burgenland, we walked along the Bridge at Andau, which represented one of the last possibilities of escaping Hungary during the rise of the Iron Curtain. Tens of thousands fled across the bridge in 1956 before it was sealed off with barbed wire, mines and armed guards.

According to Willi Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, the objective of the summit was “to help transform Austria’s borders into vineyard interfaces,” reinforcing the notion that wine and food can unite.

Caring about where your wine is from and understanding the journey of the people involved in its production should not detract from your enjoyment of drinking wine. On the contrary, it should enhance your appreciation for what is in the glass.


Editor-in-chief for Quench Magazine, Gurvinder Bhatia left a career practising law to pursue his passion for wine and food. Gurvinder is also the wine columnist for Global Television Edmonton, an international wine judge and the president of Vinomania Consulting. Gurvinder was the owner/founder of Vinomania wine boutique for over 20 years (opened in 1995, closed in 2016) which was recognized on numerous occasions as one of the 20 best wine stores in Canada. Gurvinder was the wine columnist for CBC Radio for 11 years and is certified by Vinitaly International in Verona Italy as an Italian Wine Expert, one of only 15 people currently in the world to have earned the designation. In 2015, Gurvinder was named by Alberta Venture Magazine as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People. He is frequently asked to speak locally, nationally and internationally on a broad range of topics focussing on wine, food, business and community.

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