HOW PHYLLOXERA CAME TO EUROPE
The epidemic actually began in 1858 when a small but extremely dangerous pest – phylloxera – was unwittingly brought to the south of France in a shipment of American vines. In the coming years, affected vines were exported to Portugal, England, Germany and Austro-Hungary.
At the time, no one could even imagine the far-reaching consequences this would have. Bit by bit, phylloxera destroyed large wine-growing areas across Europe – all efforts to fight the spread were unsuccessful. It was only through grafting that success was finally achieved: by grafting the cultivated wine onto American wild vines, vines developed that would not be destroyed by phylloxera. As these "rootstocks" also yielded wild grapes, it meant that through pure happenstance, the grapes could be eaten and also pressed – Uhudler was born.
However, the enthusiasm for this newly created grape variety quickly diminished as wines were now being pressed from these direct-producer grapes. Serious competition had appeared that had already reached its highpoint by the 1920s with approx. 1,100 hectares of cultivation area in the wine growing regions of Burgenland and South-East Styria.
The remaining "prestigious" wine growing regions in Austria were up in arms. Numerous regulatory attempts (i.e. labelling requirements and suspension restrictions) and then finally a complete ban in the mid-1980s bear witness to this.
However, the ban or the quantitative restrictions inevitably led to increasing the attractiveness of Uhudler and furthered its popularity. When, in the course of a renewed intensification of Austrian wine laws, Uhudler was finally banned, things came to a head. Thousands of litres of Uhudler were subsequently emptied and destroyed by wine cellar supervisors.
Uhudler producers in South Burgenland responded with resistance. Among them was legendary "Rübezahl" Johann Trinkl, from Heiligenbrunn, who fought actively for the preservation of this wine. It was only thanks to the many efforts made by the association "Friends of Uhudler" that Uhudler was readmitted to Austrian wine law in 1992 within the framework of an amendment to the wine law. Since 1 August 1992, the wine can once again be marketed in 28 communities of South Burgenland.