Rolling hills, Pannonian climate and unspoiled nature embody the diversity of the Vulkanland.
The winegrowing region Vulkanland Steiermark is not a contiguous area in which the vineyards of the various hills and valleys are connected, as is the case in the Südsteiermark; it is rather a region made up of a few small & medium-sized islands.
These islands, which are often very different in terms of soil and grape varieties – some of which are many kilometres distant from one another – embody the diversity of Vulkanland Steiermark.
Widely diverse, the varieties that grow here…
A considerable variety of grapevines grows on the 1,524 hectares of Vulkanland Steiermark. Friends of the Traminer find here in Klöch a large area planted – and old vines as well. In Straden and environs, Grauburgunder is cultivated as the primary variety – with very satisfying results.
In terms of vineyard area, Welschriesling stands at the top of the list with 310 hectares. This is followed by parcels of Weissburgunder, with 239 hectares. The white varieties are rounded-out with Sauvignon Blanc (108 ha), Morillon (92 ha), Gelber Muskateller (66 ha) and Riesling (23 ha). The red variety Zweigelt, with about 77 hectares, occupies third place in terms of area. All of the white varieties just listed are marketed as Vulkanland Steiermark, while the reds are sold with the denomination of origin Steiermark.
The most important wine villages, islands of cultivation and centres of the local wine industry – from north to south – are the Ortswein districts Oststeiermark, Riegersburg, Gleichenberg, Kapfenstein, St Anna, Straden, St Peter, Tieschen and Klöch.
In the north of the region, at the summit of the Ringkogel (about 600 m above sea level) near Hartberg, there are vineyards that reach some 400–520 metres above sea level and thus figure among Austria’s highest-elevation vineyards.
A pleasant & lively regional wine culture…
While many medium-sized and large establishment are to be found in the Südsteiermark, growers in Vulkanland Steiermark often cultivate vines as a sideline and sell their wines in their own Buschenschanken. This engenders an agreeable & lively regional wine culture, which particularly benefits the locals themselves.
New life on dead volcanoes
Vulkanland Steiermark owes its name to the geology in the south of the region and its extinct volcanoes – a unique feature among Austria’s winegrowing regions. A great many of the vines grows on varying deposits left by the Paratethys Sea and the long-since dried-up lakes and rivers of the Styrian Basin, as well as upon quaternary terrace gravels.
Volcanic rock occurs in Vulkanland as tuff and basalt. Tuff is a material that was launched explosively out of volcanoes millions of years ago, which then fell to earth as a precipitate of larger and smaller substances called pyroclasts and as ash rain, which solidified over time to become rock, mostly porous. Basalt, on the other hand, is cooled magma, liquid rock from the interior of the earth, which cooled down after emerging, solidified into a dense and hardened form, forming a new layer of rock and soil.
Wines from the edge of the Puszta
The climate of Vulkanland Steiermark is characterized by the transition from the hot & dry Pannonian climate to the warm & humid, Illyrian Mediterranean climate. The region borders Slovenia in the south and Burgenland to the east. Across these borders, hot winds from the Pannonian steppes reach far into the south of Vulkanland Steiermark – thus the region is also the warmest of all Styrian winegrowing real estate, and thus predestined for the production of red wines.
Predestined for red wines
Basically, the grapes coming from volcanic soils here are always a bit riper because of the omnipresent heat, but even in the Vulkanland, the coolness rising from the surroundings at night provides the desirable freshness in the wines, as is the case throughout the Steiermark.
Remaining unspoiled, a near-to-nature region for tourism
On these paths, small Buschenschanken with welcoming hosts invite the traveller to stop for a short break (or even a long one), where visitors not only enjoy the wine but also encounter the other great culinary delicacy of the region: the distinctive Styrian pumpkinseed oil.