Downloads & FAQ

There is a range of promotional material, such as bottle hangers, table displays, stickers and printed folders (in German) with the Sustainable Austria seal and the template business number 1234567 available for any business with Sustainable Austria certification. These businesses can also purchase sustainable universal wine glasses.

Please order the materials you require from the Austrian Wine Institute (ÖWI). Address: ÖWI Handels GmbH, Josef Hafner Straße 4, 2100 Korneuburg, Austria. Tel: +43 2262 62546, email: info@oewi.at. Click here for direct access to the Austrian Wine online shop.

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Sustainable Austria Transparency Paper

FAQs on sustainability certification

What does sustainability mean?

Sustainability comes from the word ‘sustain’ and is used to describe the long-term use of resources without causing any harm. The UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Report) has defined sustainability as follows: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Three sustainability pillars have been derived from this: ecological factors, economic factors and social factors.

Why is sustainability so important in the wine industry?

Increasingly extreme climates have a serious impact on viticulture – late frosts, hail and drought are occurring ever more frequently. Reducing greenhouse gases through efficient use of resources and using materials with a low carbon footprint in the vineyards and cellars plays a vital role, as do soil fertility and water availability. Vineyards are planted and cultivated for 30 years or more, so incorrect cultivation methods have a long-term impact on sustainability.

Which measures are assessed?

The assessment covers some 360 measures, including grape production, the vineyard facility, wine production and sales. It focuses on the effects of these measures on greenhouse gases and the efficient use of resources, phytomedicinal measures and nutrient supplies for the vines, as well as social and economic factors. Those interested in the certification process can view the specific measures assessed directly in the online tool. It is possible to click through the certification anonymously.

How is an assessment carried out?

Scientists have rated all measures on a scale from +10 to -10, divided into nine sustainability categories (climate, soil, water, energy, biodiversity, materials, quality, social factors and economic factors). Each data entry contains an arrow and a brief explanation to show the producer the effect of that particular measure on each sustainability category. Once the data has been entered, a spider diagram with a traffic light system shows the producer’s sustainability status. For each sustainability category, e.g. climate, the producer is given three suggested improvements to encourage more sustainable production.

A separate Measures Assessment Transparency Paper provides an overview of how the individual measures in the nine areas are assessed for certification. Please note that, for reasons of system security, the Measures Assessment Transparency Paper does not list specific figures. Instead, six rating categories (excellent, very good, good, negative, very negative, extremely negative) have been compiled, which are then allocated to the different measures.

Which scientists have undertaken the assessments?

– Climate: Gregor Sellner6 and Werner Pölz3
– Biodiversity: Norbert Sauberer5 and Klaus Peter Zulka3
– Material: Gregor Sellner6 and Werner Pölz3
– Soil: Franz Zehetner2 and Peter Tramberend3
– Water: Gerhard Soja7 and Helga Lindinger3
– Energy: Alois Geyrhofer1 and Werner Pölz3
– Quality: Ferdinand Regner1 for the vineyards and Harald Scheiblhofer1 for the cellars
– Social factors: Wolfgang Dobritzhofer4
– Economy: Franz G. Rosner1
– Certification tool: Stefan Großauer2 and Siegfried Pöchtrager2

1 Federal Agency for Production of Wine and Fruit, Wiener Straße 74, 3400 Klosterneuburg, Austria
2 University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
3 Federal Environment Agency, Spittelauer Lände 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria
4 Lower Austria Chamber of Agriculture, Wiener Straße 64, 3100 St. Pölten, Austria
5 Vienna Institute For Nature Conversation & Analyses, Giessergasse 6/7, 1090 Vienna, Austria, and University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
6 Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Garnisongasse 7/17, 1090 Vienna, Austria
7 AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Konrad-Lorenz-Straße 24, 3430 Tulln, Austria

Who audits all the measures?

The accredited and independent auditing companies lacon GmbH www.lacon-institut.com and agroVet GmbH www.bio-garantie.at/agrovet undertake annual audits and issue certification independently. These external audits are designed to ensure the objective fulfilment of sustainable production.
Wine producers who sell their own products are audited every three years on their estate but they still need to enter all data into the online tool every year. However, a random sample of 5% of these producers are audited in the interim. All other businesses, such as wine retailers and wholesalers and wine cooperatives, are audited annually on their premises to check that the data they have entered is correct.

Which measures are rated particularly positively or negatively?

Please refer to the separate Measures Assessment Transparency Paper.

When can a producer be certified?

The producer is automatically approved for certification when the strict requirements have been fulfilled. At least seven of the nine sustainability criteria must be rated green and a maximum of two are still currently allowed to be rated yellow.

This creates an impetus for producers to be certified but also an obligation to implement ongoing sustainability improvements in the business in order to continue to fulfil the requirements in subsequent years. The background to this is that the criteria are made continually more stringent and each year – the worst-rated producer(s) with a green rating are moved to a yellow rating, and the yellow rating is accordingly adjusted, too.

Do the producers receive training in more sustainable production?

Each measure implemented in the vineyard and cellar is recorded in the online tool with the relevant impacts, e.g. on climate and energy, with an arrow system pointing upwards (= positive) or downwards (= negative) and a brief justification.
This gives the producer information about how production can be made more sustainable. Once the data has been entered, a spider diagram with a traffic light system shows the producer’s sustainability status. The further inside the green rating, the more sustainable the business. For each sustainability category, e.g. climate, the producer is given three suggested improvements to encourage more sustainable production. At the annual general meeting, all certified producers are invited to analyse the past year together, discuss innovations and decide on measures to be taken for the next growing season.

Who oversees the sustainability certification tool?

A governing body led by the Austrian Winegrowers’ Association decides on developments for the certification tool. Specialists, scientists and legal experts are represented in this body.