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    Wineries in South Tyrol

    There are more than 200 wineries in South Tyrol where tasting, purchasing and discovering everything about outstanding South Tyrolean wine is on the agenda. Some are smaller operations that grow only one type of grape as well as cooperatively managed, larger wineries. In South Tyrol, wine and architecture are issues which are becoming increasingly interrelated. For example, many wineries are architecturally magnificent constructions that have been carefully integrated into the rural landscape. Details about South Tyrol’s many wineries, including opening times, bars and wine tastings, are available here.

    Geier Simon Plonerhof
    Bolzano/Bozen, Bolzano/Bozen and environs
    In Santa Maddalena, tradition is written with capital letters, and the Plonerhof Estate Winery in Bolzano is no exception to that. On the contrary, the farmhouse itself goes back to the thirteenth century, and the vines with which Simon Geier works are over seventy years old. So with so much history, a careful, gentle approach is practically a self-evident fact.

    In the vineyard of the Plonerhof Estate Winery in Maddalena di Sotto, therefore, prudence and work that is close to nature are called for, which in turn means: a lot of work by hand. That is in fact associated with a certain degree of toil, but it also has its effect upon the quality of the grapes. “When we work in the vineyards by hand, we achieve a great degree of control because we experience the grapes with all five senses,” Geier explains.

    Added to work by hand is the fact that herbicides are totally avoided, and they almost completely do without insecticides. “We only have to act against the spotted wing drosophila, because otherwise it would destroy the entire harvest,” the winegrower tells us.

    Once the harvest is brought in, classic Santa Maddalena is made from Schiava and Lagrein grapes in the estate’s own winery, as well as a fruity Lagrein and a cuvée of Yellow Muscat and Pinot Blanc. With their wines, the Plonerhof Estate Winery has also brought home a whole series of prizes and awards. So anyone who understands how to deal with ancient grapevines is rewarded with the highest quality. The Methuselahs are, so it seems, in a generous mood.
    Neumarkt/Egna, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    Nine generations of winegrowing and a farm name that goes back to the Latin. That is the Glassierhof in Egna, at which the Vaja family also shows that a long history in no way means standing still. The decision to run the vineyards organically and to turn the harvest into wine in their own winery was made in 2005.

    But let’s begin with the history. The name “Glassierhof” goes back to the Latin term clausura which the estate was called, as it was enclosed by a wall.

    Earlier on, it was common to surround the farmstead with an enclosing wall in order to protect the crops. This precious product that is worthy of protection today is the wine which the Vaja family produces from organic grapes that they grow at the farm. “With around two and a half hectares, our grape growing areas that are situated at 220 meters above sea level in the Villa district of Egna are in fact manageable, but nevertheless we focus on variety,” says winegrower Stefan Vaja. Some 35 percent of the area is each devoted to Pinot Blanc and Lagrein, followed by Merlot and Cabernet, which together occupy a quarter of the area, as well as a small section of Chardonnay.

    In addition, the operation has Gewürztraminer in Sella, Sauvignon Blanc in Montagna, and Pinot Noir in Mazzon (Himalaya). With this mix, a tradition is continued that goes back a long time in the Vaja family. The Glassierhof has been in their possession for no fewer than nine generations, so winegrowing is in their blood. But what is newer, and substantially newer, is the decision to no longer supply the harvest to a cooperative winery, but rather to make the wine themselves. They have been doing that at the Glassierhof since 2007. And they have done so with great success.
    Kränzelhof Winery
    Tscherms/Cermes, Meran/Merano and environs
    Grapes have been grown in Cermes since the twelfth century, the Kränzelhof has existed since the fourteenth century, and winegrowing has been an important pillar since the 1500s. And today? Today, Franz von Pfeil upholds the tradition, grows grapes and makes wine at the Ansitz Kränzelhof in Cermes, and combines that with art.

    “For me, art and the enjoyment of exquisite wine have a lot in common,” von Pfeil says. “Wine works of art live, they are created through the inspiration of a master and the hands of all those who accompany the transformation of the wine.” If we stay with the image, then the vineyards of the Kränzelhof are something like the canvas upon which the wine works of art develop. A six hectare-sized canvas.

    The grapevines of the Kränzelhof grow on loose moraine soils and are tended especially gently. Thus artificial fertilizers and herbicides are avoided, while field and meadow flowers between the rows of grapevines provide sustainable life in the vineyard. “In addition, we reduce the yields per hectare that are allowed by removing leaves in arduous work by hand, trimming shoots, and cutting away grapes,” von Pfeil says.

    In that way, and thanks to thrifty cellar techniques that are used, wines are created with crisp acidity that are described as “savory, full of body, aromatic, and conducive to aging.” “We want to create individual wines that are filled with character,” says the winegrower from the Kränzelhof in Cermes, “wines in which the vintage and origin can be recognized, which are well received by connoisseurs, and which give them joy.” That is the art of winemaking.
    Tenuta Klaus Lentsch
    Eppan an der Weinstaße/Appiano sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    “My wines are made for people who know that wine is much more than just a drink.” Klaus Lentsch’s credo indicates the path that he follows with his Klaus Lentsch Estate Winery in San Paolo. The path to cru wines from the Valle Isarco, fresh white wines from the Oltradige, and powerful reds from the Bassa Atesina.

    Lentsch comes from a winegrowing family rich in tradition from Bronzolo in the Bassa Atesina. In 2008, along with his wife Sylvia, he put his winemaking knowledge on his own two feet and founded the Klaus Lentsch Estate Winery in San Paolo. The goal: to blaze new trails and also create wines that are typical for the region.

    “The region” in that regard is not just San Paolo or Oltradige. Rather, under the Klaus Lentsch name, three winegrowing areas are tended which are completely different and yet classic. On five hectares in San Paolo, three hectares in Campodazzo, and two more in Bronzolo, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Yellow Muscat, and Lagrein all grow.

    But it doesn’t matter at all where the vineyards are located: “Striving for quality already starts in the vineyard, and specifically right at the vine,” Lentsch says, “and it continues in the winery and the marketing.” Only when the ideas about quality encompass every link of the chain are outstanding wines created. Those that are more than just a drink.
    Wine-growing estate Lieselehof
    Kaltern an der Weinstraße/Caldaro sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    In the middle of the nineteenth century, when Franz Morandell built a farmhouse, he at the same time also immortalized his wife. Her name was Elisabeth, which in its loving nickname becomes “Lisele”. Today, the Lieselehof Estate Winery in Caldaro is an imposing estate in which the winegrowing knowledge of three generations meets together and where Werner Morandell has the say. He is the great-grandson of “Lisele”.

    The fact that with this story, the Morandells inherited their passion for wine right from the cradle may sound like a platitude. Except that it is true. Werner’s grandfather was a winegrower, while his father Gottlieb-Amadeus attended to the grafting of young grapevines and produced rootstock for surrounding vineyard nurseries.

    Werner Morandell also thoroughly devoted himself to winegrowing. He even wrote a book about it and along with his vineyard, he is a contractual partner of the Freiburg in Breisgau State Viticultural Institute in Germany. Within that context, the main attention lies with fungus-resistant varieties, on the organic cultivation of traditional grape varieties (such as Schiava and Cabernet), and on wines that are made in an ecologically friendly manner. “That means that during the vinification, only a few natural treatment agents are permitted, and we completely do without synthetic materials,” Morandell says.

    The particular pride of the Morandells is wines that are made from exclusively fungus-resistant grapes for which no chemical herbicides are used in the vineyard and for which strict conditions are met for grape yields per vine. A separate brand name has even been developed for them: Green Mountain Wine.
    Bolzano/Bozen, Bolzano/Bozen and environs
    The Trogerhof in Bolzano is among the oldest estates in the classic Santa Maddalena zone. And winegrower Josef “Pepi” Staffler is among those who uphold the Santa Maddalena tradition. “Santa Maddalena is a light, fruity Alto Adige red wine that is typical to the region,” he says. And it should remain so – that, too, can be read from this sentence.

    The overwhelmingly largest component of Santa Maddalena is the Schiava grape. “Because of the hot climate in the Bolzano basin and the small portion of powerful Lagrein, the Santa Maddalena is fuller and more intense than other Schiava variants,” says Staffler, explaining the secrets of the wine, to which he has dedicated his winegrowing life.

    The Schiava and Lagrein grapes of the Trogerhof grow on the moraine detritus soils in Maddalena di Sotto, and thus on slopes that run up to the Renon plateau. Both of the varieties are harvested at the same time and they are also fermented together. Staffler matures his Santa Maddalena in classic large oak barrels in the historical vaulted cellar of the Trogerhof. That is due less to a nod to tradition than to the conditions which the ancient cellar offers. “Our cellar was built from natural stone, it has natural stone floors, and a pleasant indoor climate,” the winegrower says.

    Staffler’s goal is to make the Santa Maddalena from the Trogerhof a “good everyday wine” with which price and quality match. Nothing more. But also nothing less.
    Huber Andreas, Pacher Hof
    Natz-Schabs/Naz-Sciaves, Brixen/Bressanone and environs
    Eight hectares, eight grape varieties. Well, this correspondence may well be purely coincidental, but otherwise Andreas Huber at the Pacherhof in Novacella near Bressanone leaves little up to chance. Rather, what reigns here are competence, commitment, passion, and the heritage of wine pioneers.

    One of them was Josef Huber, the grandfather of Andreas who runs the estate today. Both have wine in their blood, as the Hubers’ Pacherhof in Novacella has existed since 1142. For his part, Grandpa Josef undertook quite a number of voyages of discovery on which he came across the knowledge that for the soils and steep slopes of the Valle Isarco, Sylvaner, Pinot Grigio, and Gewürztraminer would be the most suitable grape varieties. He was the first one to focus on Kerner, and today the assortment of wines from the Valle Isarco cannot be imagined without it.

    But Andreas Huber does not follow in these admittedly big footsteps without preparation. He went and got educated at the Veitshöchheim winemaking school near Würzburg, Germany and today, with his competence and know-how, he sets the tone in the vineyard and winery.

    Under Huber’s leadership, dry wines are created today at the Pacherhof in Novacella with a prominent fruit and a definite mineral quality. “In order for the characteristics of the vines and the earth to be maintained, we focus on gentle processing and intentionally avoid maturation in small oak casks,” explains the winegrower-slash-winemaker.

    The legacy of his grandfather is therefore still alive today, even in the selection of varieties. So what grows at the Pacherhof in addition to Müller Thurgau, Grüner Veltliner, and Pinot Grigio are also Riesling and Sylvaner. And, of course, Kerner. In Grandpa’s name.
    Kaltern an der Weinstraße/Caldaro sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    Andreas Dichristin has a dream. He wants to consistently make wine from completely untreated grapes, and thus he even does without organic pesticides. He has reserved a section of his organic estate winery Tröpfltalhof in Caldaro for the trials. And planned for lots and lots of patience.

    For someone who has dedicated his life to winegrowing and winemaking, Dichristin incidentally admits to having a really marginal role in all of it. “For thirty years, I have been accompanying the grapes on their path from the vineyard into the bottle,” he says, “and today I know that our work for the most part consists of observing.”

    The secret of his work is to remain very close to nature with everything that he does and to recognize the right timing for everything. For that reason, since 2005, Andreas, his wife Rosmarie, and their children Verena and Jakob have been running the Tröpfltalhof in Caldaro biodynamically – and, it goes without saying, the vineyards, as well. In their own nearby vineyard at an elevation of 500 meters, Sauvignon Blanc vines grow, while in the Barleith vineyard above Lake Caldaro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are planted.

    The fact that the wines of the Tröpfltalhof are aged in amphorae emphasizes once again the very independent path that the Dichristins follow. Andreas describes it as “Remaining true to minimalism from the vines to the bottle”, and adds, “I believe that it is precisely that which gives my wines greatness and originality.”
    Tscherms/Cermes, Meran/Merano and environs
    The best grapes, creativity, a love of labor, and a lot of patience: those are the ingredients from which Leila Grasselli and Dominic Würth in Cermes produce wines – as newcomers from another field, with the greatest respect for nature, under the label GRAWÜ.

    GRAWÜ is a made-up word composed of the first letters of the surnames of these new arrivals to Alto Adige. “We have Italian and German roots and have only been living in Alto Adige for a few years,” Würth explains. “That makes a lot of things more difficult in terms of founding a company, but there are great opportunities in making wines free of conventions.”

    Individual wines require individual methods. Thus leased vineyards in the Val Venosta are tended strictly organically, with attention being paid to natural cultivation and selected fungus-resistant varieties. And in the GRAWÜ winery, they consistently follow their own path, doing without pure strains of yeast and other oenological products. “Our goal is to get the genuine, unadulterated taste of the grapes and the terroir into the glass: the liquid memory of a vintage in all of its facets,” Würth explains.

    Thus what comes into existence are dynamic wines that are fermented with the skins: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Gewürztraminer which constantly change and bring forth their very own flavor. “Perhaps not everyone will like them, but they very nicely reflect us as a family and the mountains in which they grow,” the winegrower says.
    Haidenhof Winery
    Tscherms/Cermes, Meran/Merano and environs
    Selling wine twice with three hundred years in between. At the Haidenhof in Cermes, wine was already being sold out of the cellar in the eighteenth century. The winery is still there, and the Erb family has been selling wine again since 2006. Their own, mind you, and not just out of the cellar.

    Around 15,000 bottles are produced every year by three generations who currently run the operation together at the Haidenhof in Cermes. And with success. “Over the past fifteen years, we have steadily increased the quality of our wines and also expanded the number of varieties,” explains Johann Karl Erb.

    Today there are eight varieties that carry the Haidenhof label. Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Schiava, Pinot Noir, and Diva “Every variety requires a special processing and aging,” Erb says, although he also attaches even greater importance to another topic: the selection of the right point in time for the harvest. Only when that is attained is the entire potential of a vintage available.

    Erb attributes the wines from the Haidenhof as being rather fruity and full-bodied in style and thus having their own profiles. These are formed not in the winery, but rather already in the steep vineyard situated at an elevation of 450 meters with its loamy soil and Mediterranean climate. This is the place where the raw materials grow for the wines of the Haidenhof, and thus the raw materials for the continuation of a three hundred year tradition. After a pause.
    Eppan an der Weinstaße/Appiano sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    From Karl to Josef to Johannes: for a good forty years now, the baton of wine production has been passed on at the Bergmannhof. From father to son to grandson, from Pichler to Pichler. But the Pichler’s relay race with grapegrowing is substantially longer than that. It dates back to the year 1851 in which the family came into possession of the Bergmannhof.

    As early as the seventeenth century, the Bergmannhof in Riva di Sotto-Appiano appeared for the first time in documents, and for nearly 170 years, the Pichler family has been operating it. But only in 1978 did Karl Pichler and his son Josef decide to go their own way and make wine themselves out of the grapes from their 2.5 hectares of vineyards. From the very beginning onward, great value was placed upon careful, prudent dealings with the vineyard and the vines, which also meant upon a lot of work by hand. “We try to work as close to nature as possible through the smallest targeted interventions,” Josef Pichler explains, “and thus to get the best from our grapes vintage after vintage.” Within that context, it comes in useful for Pichler that within that work, tradition and innovation flow together – in the form of knowledge from three generations.

    Both of those ensure that the care and prudence continue, in the winery as well. “The maturation of our wines takes place for the most part in large wooden barrels with long periods of contact with the yeast and minimal use of sulfur, and we do without unnecessary fining and filtration,” Pichler says, describing the signature at the Bergmannhof. It is the signature of three generations.
    Weitgruber-Raffeis Winery
    Meran/Merano, Meran/Merano and environs
    “Class instead of mass” as the saying goes, but at the Jürgen Weitgruber Estate Winery in Merano-Maia Alta, that is a specification that is followed consistently. In the vineyard, in the winery, and in the no less than 1,500 hours of work by hand every year.

    The district of Maia Alta in Merano lies somewhat above the center of the old capital of Tyrol, with its slopes being sundrenched and hot in the summer with the nights significantly cooler. The particular microclimate contributes to high grape quality and a broad spectrum of aromas in the wines that are obtained from them.

    On top of that, the vineyards of the Jürgen Weitgruber Estate Winery are located at elevations between 300 and 600 meters and are therefore planted on very different soils: from fine sandy and warm to rocky with a rich skeleton. “So all of our grape varieties find the conditions that are suitable for their needs,” explains Weitgruber.
    The estate winery’s product line comprises Pinot Blanc, Kerner, Schiava, Lagrein, Pinot Noir, and Regent, and what is made from them are crisp, fruity, fresh white and rosé wines and harmonious red wines filled with character. Wines that have to fulfill two characteristics in the philosophy of the Weitgruber family: “Our focus,” the winegrower explains, “lies in being and remaining authentic and providing people with joy in our wines.”

    And that may sound like a platitude, but that, too, is pursued consistently at the Jürgen Weitgruber Estate Winery in Merano-Maia Alta: in the vineyard, in the winery, and in the 1,500 hours of work by hand every year.
    Garlider - Christian Kerschbaumer
    Feldthurns/Velturno, Brixen/Bressanone and environs
    On the sunny slopes above the Valle Isarco in Velturno is found the Garlider Estate Winery. Christian Kerschbaumer follows a very particular philosophy here having to do with maintaining the characteristics of the grapevine and soil in the wine. Organic cultivation is one puzzle piece of this philosophy.

    But sustainability is not the only topic which, in the eyes of Kerschbaumer, speaks for organic growing. The effects upon the wine are also smaller with this type of cultivation than with the conventional. In the winery, the Valle Isarco winegrower also uses primarily indigenous yeasts – another tile in the mosaic of an unadulterated wine.

    And incidentally, “wine” at the Garlider Estate Winery stands for white wine. First and foremost, but not exclusively. On a small plot, the only Pinot Noir in the Isarco Valley is grown, with the large remainder of the vineyards bringing forth five white varieties. “In the Valle Isarco, the white wines find hard but very good conditions that substantially shape their character,” Kerschbaumer says with conviction.

    These conditions include warm days, fresh, cool nights, good aeration, and soils that consist of a mixture of quartz phyllite. “All of this together gives the whites their fruity, subtle aromas, sleek elegance, and individual, dry tanginess,” explains the head of the Garlider Estate Winery in Velturno.

    So it is no wonder that the Garlider wines are making headlines. For English wine critic Stuart Pigott, Kerschbaumer is one of the ascending stars in the Valle Isarco. He writes, “Above all, his white wines are in a special class.”
    Tisens/Tesimo, Meran/Merano and environs
    Storing wines underground is not uncommon, but truly underground, we mean, in a mining tunnel. This is happening at the Großkemat winery in Prissian. Soon.

    On the grounds of Großkemat estate, there are several tunnels. Josef Knoll, the owner of the estate, is converting one of them and will use it as a bottle storage in the future. Additionally, the cultivation area of the estate is gradually expanding, and the cellar is being upgraded. So, the Großkemat winery is growing while embracing its roots. "We're daring a fresh start to the almost forgotten winemaking tradition at the estate," explains Knoll.

    Throughout, Knoll's goal is simple: "I want to do justice to the potential of our unique location and produce the best grapes," he says. By 'unique location,' the Prissian winemaker not only refers to the special porphyry structure of the soils but also the hillside location and optimal orientation of his vineyards planted with Pinot Blanc, Solaris, and Schiava vines.

    Whether red or white: The wines crafted by Josef Knoll from the grapes of the Großkemat estate reflect the terroir as authentically as possible. "I emphasize that they are natural. This gives them an appealing elegance and depth, offering enjoyable drinking," explains Knoll.

    And in the future, they will also be stored underground. In the tunnel.
    Winery Romen
    Eppan an der Weinstaße/Appiano sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    Winegrowing in Appiano has no fewer than two thousand years of tradition. Two thousand years in which winegrowers of all eras have made use of the ideal location, the mild climate, and the fertile soils on the ridge near the Passo Mendola for growing grapes and making wine from them.

    It is not surprising that such a lengthy tradition is anchored in the winegrowing operations and winegrower families. And at the Weinberghof, the Romen family does not constitute an exception. It is in the district of Appiano-Monte in which history and tradition become especially tangible, as there is a density here of manors, castles, and fortresses that knows no equal.

    The Weinberghof in its typical Oltradige style joins in this tradition. The view from the terrace looks out on the surrounding countryside and the numerous vineyards – including those of the Romen family. “We make use of the ideal location here with numerous hours of sunshine that is especially beneficial to the maturing of the grapes,” explains Alois Romen. “And during the night, katabatic winds provide cooler temperatures. These substantial temperature differentials between day and night are responsible for the prominent aroma of our wines.”
    But wine enthusiasts can convince themselves of this, and specifically right at the Weinberghof. Their own wines can be tasted here properly – in the winery which, with its old stone arches, is reminiscent of olden days. As one learns, tradition extends into the details.
    Vahrn/Varna, Brixen/Bressanone and environs
    The Köfererhof in Novacella works with special vineyards and under special conditions. At an elevation of nearly 800 meters, the climate is somewhat harsher, the temperature differentials between day and night are greater, and the grapes mature somewhat later than in the classic grape growing zones. But who says that all that has to be a disadvantage?

    In any case, the Köfererhof in Novacella (in the community of Varna) is among the oldest winegrowing estates in the Valle Isarco. The ancients already knew to appreciate the harsh conditions here around the Novacella monastery. And so do Gaby and Günther Kerschbaumer, who today are responsible for the 5.5 hectare vineyards of the Köfererhof. “With certain work, harsh conditions are in no way negative,” says Günther Kerschbaumer, “and they even contribute to the creation of intense, mineral-rich, juicy, and complex white wines.”

    As a passionate winegrower, he certainly knows that, and some 48,000 bottles of this wine leave the winery at the organically managed Köfererhof year after year. They are exclusively whites, first and foremost Sylvaner, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Müller Thurgau, and Kerner. The harvest of the latter provides particular challenges, since there is actually not one Kerner harvest, but rather three. “With the first one, especially fresh wine is made; with the second, the bulk is harvested, and with the third, a complex, complete wine is created,” Kerschbaumer says.

    So that’s a lot of work under harsh conditions. But who says that all that has to be a disadvantage?
    Wilhelm Walch 1869
    Tramin an der Weinstraße/Termeno sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    The Wilhelm Walch Estate Winery has its headquarters in a former Jesuit monastery in the picturesque winegrowing village of Termeno. The estate has existed since 1869, and today, five generations after its founding, it is one of the largest private estate wineries in Alto Adige.

    Precisely because of the lengthy history and the unusual location, it is worthwhile to first take a look at its headquarters when visiting the Wilhelm Walch Estate Winery. Not only is it housed in a former monastery, it also has one of the loveliest historical cellars in the region. In it, large wooden barrels decorated with artistic carvings age, while the barrique cellars with the small oak casks are housed in the deep vaulted cellar.

    Because this area is so picturesque and puts its stamp on the estate winery but hardly even allows functional work, the manor was extended several years ago with a fermenting cellar. “Through the use of highly modern technology, the new winery makes possible the gentlest possible grape processing for the production of the finest quality wines,” explains Walch, the one who provided his name to the estate winery.

    The raw material for these quality wines grows and thrives – tended in a sustainable manner in a way that is gentle on the environment – in vineyards on the Mendel Pass filled with Gewurztraminer, as well as in Caldaro and Cortaccia. These are distributed across elevations from 250 to 700 meters and the largest section is extremely steep. That already implies that the harvest takes place with great commitment and by hand. There are also advantages to the steep location. “These vineyards,” Walch is convinced, “lend our wines the fresh, precise fruit.”
    Maso Thaler Winery
    Montan/Montagna, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    Everyone knows that all roads lead to Rome, but some people also blaze trails going in the opposite direction. For instance, in 2004 Nino Motta moved with his family from the Eternal City to Gleno above Montagna in order to produce wine there at the Maso Thaler.

    Although within that context, the work at the Maso Thaler, which was founded in 1812 and is located at an elevation of more than 600 meters, is anything but a walk in the park. “Our vineyards in Gleno are very steep, many of them are terraced, and just for that reason alone, only work by hand is called for in many locations,” Motta explains. So not only is a lot of sweat necessary to manage the Maso Thaler, heart and passion are also needed.

    This passion, the passion for winegrowing, was also what brought Motta here from Rome nearly twenty years ago. Since that time, he and his wife Anna Maria and their sons Filippo, Francesco, and Piergiorgio have tended 3.5 hectares of grape growing areas. Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay grow here, all of them supported by Guyot trellises.

    But the focus is on Pinot Noir, because Motta believes that the perfect conditions are found here: porphyry soils, high temperature differentials between day and night especially in August and September, and a constant breeze. “All of that together provides for our wines distinguishing themselves through freshness, spiciness, and being able to last long,” Motta says.
    Winery Plattenhof
    Tramin an der Weinstraße/Termeno sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    In the search for the best Gewürztraminer vineyards, sooner or later the seeker also arrives in Sella above Termeno, where wine has been grown for four centuries. For a good two hundred years now, that is also the location of the Plattenhof Estate Winery that is run by the Dissertori family – today along with the hotel and restaurant of the same name.

    The Dissertoris are therefore winegrowers, restaurateurs, and hoteliers all in one, but if the question is posed as to how they would describe themselves, the answer comes out clear and simple. They are first and foremost wine connoisseurs and wine lovers, as Werner Dissertori replies. Whereby “wine” in this case stands for Gewürztraminer, as the Plattenhof Estate Winery is in fact one that has dedicated itself completely to a single grape variety. And to the goal of producing top-quality wines as a small, hands-on winery.

    The preconditions for this are in any case present: the location of the Plattenhof Estate Winery is blessed for that grape, their know-how is broad, and the family’s experience ranges over many years. As a small family-run operation, every detail is attended to here by themselves, and everyone has a clear role in the operation, whether that is in the hotel, the traditional dining establishment, or in fact in the winery.

    But in any case, wine plays a weighty role in all three pillars of the operation. And we in fact know what wine means in Sella above Termeno: the best Gewürztraminer, of course.
    Völs am Schlern/Fiè allo Sciliar, Dolomites Region Seiser Alm
    Under the sign of the raven, Stephan Pramstrahler of the Grottnerhof in Fiè produces multifaceted wines, all of which carry the name of a different bird – “A bird with great character,” as Pramstrahler emphasizes. For the old Grottnerhof, winegrowing in any case means a new future.

    In 2007, Pramstrahler, who runs the Hotel Turmwirt in Fiè, purchased the dilapidated Grottnerhof in Novale di Fiè and thoroughly renovated it – with a great deal of care and respect for the history of the farmhouse. Thus great pains were gone through to preserve the traditional wood-paneled Tyrolean Stube parlor, the curing kitchen, the oven, and the vault over the hallway. “In the cellar, there are even still old wine barrels that tell of earlier times,” the owner tells us.

    And the barrels fit perfectly, since in its new life, everything in the Grottnerhof revolves around wine. Or, more aptly: around multifaceted wines with lively, mineral-rich tones and a special finish: Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir that reflect the character of the surroundings. And those of the people who stand behind them. “The maturation of our wines takes place in stainless steel tanks and in large wooden barrels,” explains Pramstrahler. “That requires great attention and a lot of patience.”

    What remains is just the question about the “birds with great character” that decorate the labels of the Grottnerhof bottles that were designed by artist Florin Kompatscher. And especially the question as to why the common raven was chosen as the “coat of arms bird”. The answer is simple: not only is the raven indigenous to the Novale di Fiè, it can also be trained very well. And above all else, it is highly intelligent.
    Winery Eichenstein
    Meran/Merano, Meran/Merano and environs
    The winegrowing tradition of a family being older than that of the estate winery itself is rare, but that is the case with the Waldner family. The family has been growing grapes in Marlengo for 350 years, but it was only in 2007 that Josef Waldner built the Eichenstein Estate Winery in Merano, to which its own winery, a wine bar, and a guest chalet were added step by step.

    The vineyards of the Eichenstein Estate Winery lie in Montefranco above Merano at an elevation of 550 to 600 meters. “The interplay between microclimate, terrain, geology, and soil composition is extraordinary at Eichenstein,” Waldner explains. In concrete terms, that means that the estate winery’s grapevines grow on porphyry-quartzite and granite soils, in a Mediterranean climate, and on an Alpine landscape.

    Added to these natural conditions is the know-how of the experienced winegrower, who focuses on a consistent quality policy, harvesting by hand, and vinification that is adapted to each grape variety. Thus the white wine grapes are pressed gently, fermented in stainless steel or wood, and the new wine is kept on the yeast for several months. The red wine grapes, on the other hand, are kept in maceration vats for around three weeks in contact with the skins, and only after the completion of the alcoholic fermentation are the red wines placed in small oak casks for biological malolactic fermentation, where they are aged for an additional twelve months. “Our selections age for up to two years in the winery before they are put up for sale,” Waldner explains.

    The results are authentic wines filled with character which, as the winegrower says, “remain in the memory”. “The soul of our wines,” Waldner says, “has to move the drinker.”
    Thomas Dorfmann
    Feldthurns/Velturno, Brixen/Bressanone and environs
    For an impressive 27 years, Thomas Dorfmann was the winemaker at the Eisacktaler Winery. A dream job in the wine sector, and yet in 2018, he turned his back on it. The reason for the decision was an even bigger dream: that of his own estate winery.

    And that dream was fulfilled on one of the warmest spots in the whole Valle Isarco, at which the former lord over the cooperative winery went independent with the Thomas Dorfmann Estate Winery in Velturno. With two hectares of grape growing areas at an elevation from 550 to 650 meters, the estate winery is small. The vineyards, up to 70 percent of which are steep, are surrounded by dry stone walls and tended only by the Dorfmann family.

    “I can bring all of my experience and live out my own wine philosophy in my estate winery,” Dorfmann waxes enthusiastically, “and thus create wines that are specific to the area and the variety: through sustainable working of the vineyards and being extremely protective of quality in the winery.”

    Because Dorfmann’s focus lies on typical Valle Isarco varieties, his product line is first and foremost white: Sylvaner, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. But Dorfmann also grows and makes Pinot Noir – “a rarity in the Valle Isarco”, as he himself says. And there is another rarity at the Thomas Dorfmann Estate Winery in Velturno: the white wines are delivered with a screw-top. “For me, that is the seal of the future,” the winegrower says.
    Bellutti Christian - Weinberghof
    Tramin an der Weinstraße/Termeno sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    How can an operation that was founded in 2005 have deep roots? The Bellutti Vineyard Estate in Termeno shows how it’s done: with an uncompromising path to the highest quality and their concentration on indigenous varieties. Exclusively indigenous varieties.

    So the Bellutti Vineyard Estate is not even twenty years old, and with grape growing areas of 2.8 hectares in Termeno, it is also substantially manageable. And because the vineyard area is small, the product line is also not exhaustive. But that also has a second reason: winegrower Christian Bellutti concentrates only on indigenous varieties – on Lagrein, on Lago di Caldaro and thus Schiava, and on Gewürztraminer. Above all else Gewürztraminer.

    The local varieties have the advantage of finding their optimal terroir here, and in the winery, Bellutti places great value upon it being possible to taste this terroir in the wines. “Our goal is to produce single varietal, elegant, genuine wines that do not have an overpowering effect and which reflect the individual varieties and locations as well as the vintage,” he explains.

    For Bellutti, an uncompromising orientation toward the highest quality is furthermore necessary. In both the vineyard and the winery, the work is carried out with expertise, commitment, modern technology, and a love of detail. In the end, therefore, by following traditional, tried and true values.

    Only with the sales does Bellutti follow an unusual path: the wines from his vineyard estate go over the counter in his own wine bar. But it is not within the property of the vineyard estate, but rather right in the middle of Termeno – at the main town square.
    Bolzano/Bozen, Bolzano/Bozen and environs
    When the Berger family took over the Thurnhof in Bolzano in the middle of the nineteenth century, some 160 years ago, the surroundings were still characterized by classic agricultural activity. Today, the Thurnhof is in the lively district of Aslago, its vineyards lie on the southern slopes of Virgolo, which can confidently be called “the home hill of Bolzano”.

    The Thurnhof is run by Hans and Andreas Berger, and in spite of the location right in the city, it can still be backbreaking work. It is necessary to work 3.5 hectares of steep vineyards – with great care and a lot of effort: “We put a lot of time into the leaf work, because in that way we ensure that every bunch of grapes grows on a strong, woody shoot,” Andreas Berger tells us.

    This work and the location on a sun-drenched southern slope with high temperatures through autumn guarantee that even late-ripening red wine varieties can completely mature year after year. And then be made into wine at the Thurnhof with all of the Bergers’ know-how. “Our goal is to transfer the precious contents of the grapes as completely as possible into the wine,” says Berger, conveying his philosophy, “and in that way our wines receive fruit, structure, and the characteristics that are typical of the variety.”

    In so doing, the “genuine city winegrowers” as the Bergers call themselves very much focus on diversity: Yellow Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc, Lagrein and Santa Maddalena, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. An extremely broad product line for a small-scale and manageable estate winery.
    Kurtinig an der Weinstraße/Cortina sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    Larcherhof Winery
    Bolzano/Bozen, Bolzano/Bozen and environs
    History consists mostly of rock. At the Larcherhof in Bolzano-Rencio, for instance, the wines age in large wooden barrels in a cellar that dates back centuries. But even more impressive are the powerful Lagrein grapevines of the Larcherhof which themselves are more than a hundred years old. As can been seen with them, history lives.

    The vineyards of the Larcherhof in Bolzano-Rencio belong to the classic Santa Maddalena cultivation zone which is distinguished by a mild, nearly Mediterranean climate, by hot days and cool nights at the time of maturation, and by warm porphyry soils and loose alluvial soils. The Spögler family has five hectares of grape growing area here. “We manage our vineyards in an environmentally-friendly way that is close to nature, without herbicides or insecticides,” explains Hans Jochen Spögler.

    The vineyards are planted with Merlot, Schiava, and Pinot Grigio. And above all with Lagrein, which is to be understood as such a typical variety for Alto Adige. From the vineyards of the Larcherhof in Bolzano-Rencio, it is made into wines of different forms: Lagrein, Lagrein Kretzer rosé, Lagrein Riserva. The winegrowing tradition of the Spögler family, which runs the Larcherhof, dates back to 1893. But only since 2008 have they been making and bottling their own wines. In the meantime, production has risen to 45,000 bottles per year, a figure that will continue to grow further in coming years.
    Marling/Marlengo, Meran/Merano and environs
    Somewhat below the Marlengo Waalweg path along the irrigation ditch lies the Gruberhof organic estate winery.  This is where Jakob Gamper wields the baton.  The fact that this is the case is anything but by chance, and rather is very much a matter of genes.
    When I grow up, I want to be...  Everyone knows the old game, as well as the typical answers: cowboy or astronaut, for example.  With Jakob Gamper, though, it was different.  “When I grow up, I want to be a winemaker,” he already declared to everyone who wanted to hear it as an eight year-old, and then added, “just like my Uncle Leo.”

    But in contrast to the self-proclaimed cowboys and astronauts, Jakob actually pursued his desire for his profession in a disciplined way: diploma from the High School of Agriculture, studies in oenology and winemaking, internships in wineries in Tuscany and Germany.  What followed was his return to home at Gruberhof, which he took over in 2015.

    Already at that time, and in fact even as early as 1995, the operation had been certified by Bioland and was being operated under organic guidelines, and the young grower Jakob gratefully took up these specifications.  He set his sights on a broad spectrum of varieties, which also contained two fungus-resistant varieties.  “We have them to thank for our mineral-rich and fruity wines Bronner and Mitterberg Rosè,” says Gamper.

    On the moraine soils of the Gruberhof at an elevation of 300 to 470 meters, however, the indigenous Alto Adige grape varieties also flourish, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, from which Gamper makes first-class wines.  Just like Uncle Leo, in fact.

    Feldthurns/Velturno, Brixen/Bressanone and environs
    “Good wine requires one thing above all else: character.” This conviction leads Peter Wachtler with his work at the Taschlerhof in Bressanone. Since the early 1990s, this has consisted of making four white wines whose longevity, fruity bouquet, and a trace of the exotic have been attested to.

    Wachtler himself asserts that the Taschlerhof at the southern part of Bressanone works “with the right portion of passion and a tiny bit of boldness.” In plain language, that means that he is pleased to exchange information with his winegrowing colleagues throughout all of Europe, but he still follows his own path in the vineyard and the winery.
    That all begins in the Taschlerhof’s vineyards at an elevation of over 500 meters, where the not very fertile slate soils, southeastern exposure, and intense rays of the sun are ideal for white wines. Wachtler places great value here upon purposefully reducing the yields and only harvesting the grapes “at their absolute physiological maturity,” since, “Only in that way are the quality and the typical characteristics of the extreme growing locations maintained.”

    At the Taschlerhof in Bressanone, the concentration is on four varieties: Sylvaner, Riesling, Kerner, and Gewürztraminer. Around 60 percent are matured in large acacia barrels, and around 40 percent in stainless steel tanks. “My young wines mature through late spring with constant contact with the fine yeast,” Wachtler says, “and for that reason they are only ready to drink by late summer.” Individual wines, as we learn, need time.
    Gump Hof - Markus Prackwieser
    Völs am Schlern/Fiè allo Sciliar, Dolomites Region Seiser Alm
    Down-to-earth and cosmopolitan: the fact that someone can be both is proven by Markus Prackwieser. Although he runs the Gump Hof Estate Winery at Fiè allo Sciliar, which is nearly half a millennium old, with a great deal of respect for tradition, he also gets his inspiration from abroad: from Wachau, Austria, from Burgundy, or from the Loire Valley. “Those are the exemplary regions,” Prackwieser says.

    Since 2000, he has been responsible for the Gump Hof Estate winery in Fiè, and since that time, he has sought exchanges which do not always have to cross borders. Thus along with Günther Kerschbaumer of the Köfererhof and Christian Plattner of the Ansitz Waldgries, Prackwieser forms a wine trio that exchanges information, consults with each other, and makes use of synergies.

    So new paths are not a strange thing to the winegrower, nor are deep roots in history. After all, the Gump Hof dates back to the sixteenth century. “That characterizes the estate, it has an effect with respectful dealings with the environment, with typical grape varieties being grown, with classic cultivation methods, and with laborious work by hand,” Prackwieser says. Within that context, the winegrower can fall back on vineyards from 400 to 550 meters in elevation, up to 70 percent of which are steep, in which Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Schiava grow.

    In the wines of the Gump Hof Estate Winery in Fiè, being down-to-earth and cosmopolitan flow together. Or, as Prackwieser says, “The knowledge that has been acquired, our own experience, time, and patience; and the honing of an independent flavor profile all lead to the character of the landscape being reflected in our wines. And that of the winegrower.”
    Thomas Niedermayr Hof Gandberg
    Eppan an der Weinstaße/Appiano sulla Strada del Vino, The South Tyrolean Wine Road
    “Anyone who has specialized in the production of natural wines has to accompany the wine along its entire path.” Thomas Niedermayr of the estate winery of the same name in Appiano views himself as just such a companion, as someone who wishes to guarantee purity and wants to support nature in its own production. “In the end,” his credo goes, “nature is the highest form of quality.”

    The fact that top-quality wines can only come from grapes that are grown in a healthy environment is obvious for Niedermayr. For that reason, he manages his Gandberg estate ecologically. Growing and thriving between the grapevines, the visitor is greeted by chickens and runner ducks, the vines themselves are fungus-resistant, and the use of chemicals and other artificial aids is avoided. “We leave room for nature,” Niedermayr says.

    In the case of the Gandberg Hof, nature starts right around the farmhouse. The vineyards are located at an elevation between 500 and 530 meters. Their microclimate is influenced on one hand by the ice holes and on the other hand by the Gandberg mountain itself, which rises up behind the farmhouse.

    The special natural features and the sustainable management can be tasted in the wines from the Thomas Niedermayr Eppan Winery in Appiano. And that should also be tasted, says Niedermayr. “My entire commitment is targeted toward my wines radiating that which accompanies and guides their creation process” the winegrower says: “tranquility and relaxation, depth and the force of nature, lightheartedness and the pleasure of enjoyment.”
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