The road stretches long over the Brenner Pass into Trentino. To the right and left of it tower primeval rock giants, in whose slopes and bottoms lie picturesque villages. Anyone who has driven through South Tyrol knows that if you leave the motorway and enter the side valleys, you will make many an exciting discovery. And it is not uncommon for this discovery to be in a glass of wine. For although 60 percent of the 740,000 hectares of this small Alpine country are above 1,600 metres and many a delicate plant struggles at these altitudes, the secret of winegrowing in this Alpine-Mediterranean region lies precisely in this geographical, geological and climatic complexity. It is the contrasts that shape the vinophile growths. They are the result of nature, landscape and culture. From the 2,500-year-old wine-growing tradition and sensitively lived innovation and modern zeitgeist.
The formation of the Alps about 25 million years ago laid the foundation for the broad spectrum of soils on which South Tyrol's vines still grow today. It ranges from volcanic porphyry to weathered primary rock soils of quartz and mica, limestone and Dolomite rock to sandy marl. This diversity extends over valley sites, which are pampered by the Mediterranean currents of Lake Garda, to the sun-exposed steep slopes in the north at altitudes of over 1,000 metres, which give the name "vineyard" a very special meaning and, thanks to large temperature differences between day and night, are gifted with fresh, invigorating nuances in the grapes. Alpine precision and reliability meet southern joie de vivre and sophistication here. This contrasting, fascinating mix is reflected in around two dozen grape varieties such as the local white vine Gewürztraminer and the leading international varieties Sauvignon Blanc and also Pinot Blanc, which feels very much at home at the alpine altitudes and expresses a fruity finesse and invigorating acidity. But Pinot Noir and the autochthonous vines Vernatsch and Lagrein also often develop unique expressions under South Tyrol's climatic conditions. The term "terroir" is well deserved here. Their interplay of changes is shaped by the rough, wind-kissed slopes of the Vinschgau or Eisack valleys to mild, light-flooded sites in the south, such as the Bolzano basin, Überetsch with Kalterer See and in the Unterland.
This treasure trove of winegrowing, which encompasses 5,600 hectares of vineyards, is well managed by the approximately 5,000 winegrowers and captured in their wines. This juxtaposition of figures alone shows that South Tyrol is not dominated by large wineries, but by small family wineries that have often vouched for the high quality of their products with their names for generations. A heritage that, with the lived history of the region, also fuels awareness of organic cultivation and sustainability. Thus, in 2020, the wine industry unanimously launched the "South Tyrol Wine Agenda 2030". Thanks to this set objective, sustainability is not only a priority in viticulture, but also in winemaking, storage and logistics. In the coming years, far-reaching steps will thus be taken towards the conservation of resources and sustainability.
A concise cross-section of the diversity resulting from the attributes of the extraordinary wine-growing region and from the future-oriented awareness of South Tyrol's winegrowers will be presented by the wineries Peter Sölva, Peter Zemmer, Nals Margreid, Ignaz Niedrist, the wineries Girlan, Terlan, Tramin as well as the Schlosskellerei Tiefenbrunner on 17 October in a tasting moderated by Sebastian Bordthäuser and appropriately titled "South Tyrol - An equation with many variables" (Wineprofessionals only):