Zweigelt is the creation of Fritz Zweigelt, who crossbred Blaufränkisch with Saint-Laurent in 1922 while at Austria’s Klosterneuburg research centre. He originally called it Rotburger, but the name was changed in his honour. Today, it is the most widely planted dark-skinned variety in Austria at 6,511 hectares, double that of 2000, mostly in Lower Austria and Burgenland. It also has a significant presence in Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are even small plots devoted to the vine in Britain, Canada and Japan.
Zweigelt wines can differ greatly, but when carefully nurtured at low yields they can be full bodied red wines with black cherry notes that respond well to barrel ageing. While young, they can have a vibrant red-violet colour. The vine is early to bud and late to ripen, and is naturally vigorous, producing high yields if not controlled carefully with canopy management.