The Weinviertel (Wine Quarter) is the largest wine growing region in Austria. Roughly speaking, it occupies the north-east corner of the country. Eventually, it will be further divided, and some already speak of a Western Part, a North-Eastern part and a Southern part. But the Weinviertel is really an archipelago of wine islands set in the middle of a vast, rolling farmland. You can drive in it for many miles and never see a single vine. Then suddenly there will be, surrounding a village, nothing but vines.
Some 16,000 hectares are planted in vines throughout this region, which makes it more than four times the size of the Kamptal and over ten times the size of the Wachau. This also means that there are many varieties of terroir and many microclimates. In general, the Wineviertel receives the least rain of any region in Austria and the greatest variance of temperature in lower Austria, which is to say in the wine growing regions. Soils vary from a preponderance of loess (always on the lee side of the hills, as the winds coming from the west have slowly built up layers of fine clay) to sand, granite, loam, and gravelly soils as well as limestone veins that pop up unexpectedly in both the north and west.
Though Grüner Veltliner is the king of the Weinviertel (and is the only grape allowed to be classified under the DAC system), numerous other grapes are grown, mostly white, but also a steadily growing percentage of red grapes. There are wonderful aromatic whites, such as Gelber Muskateller, Traminer, and Sauvignon Blanc. There are also ambitious Chardonnays and some very impressive reds from Pinot Noir and St. Laurent.
In the past the Weinviertel was best known as a source for modestly priced Grüner Veltliners, and it still makes wines of great value, but as young and ambitious wine makers produce quality wines, the region will gain in prestige, and probably cost.