Austrian wines have exploded on to the wine scene in the past few years which can often leave unfamiliar consumers confused and overwhelmed by the plethora of Grüner Veltiner and Blaufränkisch wines – many organic, most from small, single vineyard plantings. One of the best resources Austrian wine consumers can turn to are those that import the wines – the ones that really know them inside and out, know the market and know the potential each has to become your new favorite wine.

This month we caught up with Franz Hofstätter of Taste of Austria (distributed by Winebow.) Here’s what he had to say:

1. What makes Austrian wine so unique? What makes it stand out from other regions?

The Basics:

Good, quality drinking water overall in Austria.

Little industrial effects  on the wine regions

Energy  is sourced from a hydro power station which has little effect on the natural environment unlike surrounding countries.


The river Danube helps to regulate temperature which positively effect the white wine growing areas of Lower Austria. The Continental climate with Pannonian influence create warm days and cool nights which helps to develop the aromatic quality of the wine..


They are well educated, hardworking agriculture managers and winemakers whose wineries are family owned and they live off of what they produce. The winemakers in Austria also take great care in organic farming practices – Austria has the highest organic production in the world.

2. What  influenced your decision to work with Austrian wines?

When I was younger, I was a sommelier in many highly rated restaurants in Austria and later in the USA (including Restaurant Danube, a James Beard Award winner 2001, in the year 2000 and 2001). Through this, I saw the customer’s reaction to our fine wines that had elegant, individual flavors and character. Here, there is no anonymous style of wines and the wines are a very good reflection of the soil and winemakers skills that can stand up to some of the highest ranked wines across the globe. . They’re also very good food wines and are wines with a certain acidity and liveliness.

3. Which producers do you import? Highlight?

We import the wineries: Albert Gesellmann, Ewald Gruber, Bernhard Ott, Karl Fritsch, Hannes Sabathi, Walter Glatzer, Marc Aurel and a few others. All of them are masters in their style and region.

4. Which states are you distributed in?

We work with Winebow Wines to distribute: Gruber´s Big G Sparkling, Albert Gesellmann Blaufränkisch Wines, Marc Aurel White and Red, Hannes Sabathi Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc in DC, NY, NJ, CT and PA. More to come…

5. What’s your favorite Austrian varietal? Region? Why?

Very difficult answer, each area offers a unique style and character. To me the Sauvignon Blanc from Kranachberg (South Styria) is world class; Tthe structure of the Blaufränkisch wines from Albert Gesellmann of Deutschkreutz (Mittelburgenland) are great food pairing wines; the Grüner Veltliner Marc Aurel of Niederösterreich (loess soil) shows great fruit and a smoky, spicy aroma and taste.

6. What’s your favorite food & wine pairing for the season?

Now the venison time is coming in Austria – I would like to see the rich OP Eximium (Blend of Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt and St Laurent) with venison. On the lighter side, the Marc Aurel Red (Pinot Noir St Laurent blend) with baby lamb…

7. Where do you see the future of Austrian wine heading?

Austrian wine will be positioned as a nation of food wines. Austrian wines are complex wines with high acidity and a pleasantly fruity style and are for people who like to taste more than one flavor in their wine.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

Give Austrian Wines a chance to persuade you. You can easily find good value wines priced between $11.99 and $25 that have a lot of personal style and taste…Support more individual artisan wines and you will develop your palate and better understand and appreciate what’s in your glass.