Austrian group calls for red wine grape to lose ‘Nazi’ name

A group of artists in Austria have launched a campaign for the Zweigelt grape variety to have its name changed from that of the Nazi party member who created it.

Zweigelt grapes (Credit: Wikipedia)

The Austrian wine-scene has become embroiled in a debate concerning the country’s recent history: whether “Zweigelt” should change its name, called as such after its founder, who is believed to be an anti-semite by the group of artists leading the campaign.

Fritz Zweigelt (1888-1964) created the grape in 1922 from a cross between Saint-Laurent and Blaufränkisch.

It is by far the most popular red wine grape in Austria, making up 13.8% of the total wine production in Austria, more than double its nearest competitor Blaufränkisch, according to 2015 figures compiled by Austrian Wine.

It had initially been called ‘Rotburger’ before being renamed in 1975 to honour its late creator.

An artists’ collective launched a campaign last week for the variety to be renamed a second time, due to Fritz Zweigelt’s early membership of the Nazi party.

The group states: “No other sector in Austria which was implicated in the Nazi system of terror has stayed as silent as the wine industry.”

Growers and restaurants are already taking note, with wineries and a Vienna restaurant pledging to market the wine under the name “Blue Monday”, an allusion to what one might experience after a weekend enjoying too much of the wine.

The Austrian wine promotion body Österreich Wein Marketing has said it is open to this debate and a name change, but that Fritz Zweigelt’s personal history must face more rigorous interrogation.

The names of other German-language wines have caused controversy in the past.

A white grape named “Dr.Wagnerrebe” after a Nazi politician was renamed following the Second World War.

In Germany it is now called “Scheurebe” after its creator Georg Scheu, but in Austria it is sold under the name “Sämling 88”.

88 refers to the serial number of the seedling Scheu chose for the variety. This has caused further outrage for some though as 88 is a code for used by many neo-nazis for “Heil Hitler”, coined as such because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

4 Responses to “Austrian group calls for red wine grape to lose ‘Nazi’ name”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    While synonyms for grape varieties are widespread changing the name for political reasons strikes me as wrong. Trying to ‘airbrush’ history achieves nothing of value and risks often mistakes f the past being forgotten and in danger of being repeated. If one accepts the logic behind this then all Wagner’s musical output should be listed under another name because Wagner was anti-semitic. This is political correctness gone mad!

  2. sylvia says:

    I think this is a great initiative! Get rid of those crusty old nazi names.

  3. Martin says:

    I grow ‘Zweigelt’ grapes and it often worries me about the distinct connection to Dr Zweigelt. Change the name.

  4. Barry says:

    But – Rotburger isn’t very attractive to English speaking countries. A lot of jokes just waiting to be made at its expense.

Leave a Reply to Martin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sales Account Manager x 2

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, UK

Staff Writer

The Drinks Business
London, UK

Business Development Manager / Account Manager

Harviestoun Brewery
Glasgow, UK, Scotland West

Customer Services Administrator

Speciality Drinks
London, UK

Marketing and Communications Manager

Southern England Wines (UK) Ltd
Petworth, UK

National Account Manager

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, UK

UK Business Development Manager - South East/ East Anglia

Wine & Spirit Education Trust
London, UK

National On-trade Sales Support

Boutinot Wines
London, UK

Wines from Spain Annual Tasting 2019

London,United Kingdom
7th Mar 2019

RAW WINE London

London,United Kingdom
10th Mar 2019
Click to view more

The Global Riesling Masters 2018

View Results

Rioja Masters 2018

View Results

Click to view more