In the Südburgenland (in eastern Austria) exists a traditional wine made from grape varieties of ungrafted vines like Ripatella, Concord, Delaware or Elvira: the Uhudler. These varieties have been found in this region for more than 100 years, and as they are highly resistant to phylloxera and other diseases, no chemical pest management in the vineyards is needed. It is not certain how the wine received its name: an old legend states that in former times, when mobility was low, in harvest time the vintners sometimes had to spend a whole week in the wine cellars in the vineyards. When the harvest was over and the vintners returned to the village, their wives used to say ‘Again you have eyes like an eagle owl’, because they thought their husbands might have drunk a lot while they stayed in the vineyards: in German, ‘Uhu’ means eagle owl.The wine entices with its fresh and fruity bouquet of wild strawberries and its characteristic dry acidity on the palate.Depending on variety or region, the color varies from pale or straw-colored to light yellow for the white Uhudler wines, while the blue grapes bear a range of colors from subtle shades of pink to light red cherries or onion skin. Not only wine is made, but also fruit juices, mild vinegars, fine jams, chocolates, sausages and cheese. For the first time, self-rooted vines were prohibited by law in the 1930s. The argument – wines made from ungrafted varieties would contain a higher amount of methanol – was wrongly used against these grapes. From 1936 to 1961 the commercial cultivation of non-grafted vines was almost totally eradicated. Only in regions that did not market the wines outside the area, wine-growing of self-rooted varieties could survive to a remarkable extent. One of these regions is the South of the Burgenland. Until today, the Uhudler is mainly consumed directly in the region as a so-called ‘house wine’. But the vintners did not give up: as the production for self-consumption was allowed, serving or selling the wine was prohibited. Thanks to the persistent efforts and discussions of the ‘association of friends of the Uhudler’ (Verein der Freunde des Uhudler), the wine law was amended in 1992. Since then, Uhudler can be served and sold in certain communities in Südburgenland. After 2030 a new rule will decide whether the Uhudler vinyards will be preserved for the future or if they have to be uprooted by law which would mean that also the tradition of Uhudler would disappear.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.