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Anyone who travels to South Tyrol as a wine tourist nowadays has actually already done everything right with their choice of destination. They will get to know a wine country where the average level is unusually high and they will encounter a lively and warm wine culture.

The series of articles beginning with this report is dedicated to those who have created this pleasing state of affairs with their work and do so anew every year: the South Tyrolean wine producers - all of them! Because every one of them, whether well-known or unknown, large or small, contributes in his or her own way to the currently so positive overall picture of the wine country of South Tyrol, and every single one of them is therefore also worth a visit.

And because good wine goes hand in hand with good food, recommended inns in the respective areas are also mentioned. The recommendations come from those who probably know best: the local wine producers.

Überetsch Part 1 - Girlan

Although Girlan is part of the municipality of Eppan, it is to be regarded as an independent area as far as the wines grown here are concerned. The best-known wineries here are probably the two large cooperatives Girlan and Schreckbichl, each of which has a very different focus.

Girlan Winery: The Vernatsch veterans

The protagonists of the tasting in March 2008 (Source: Girlan Winery)

On 31 March 2008 an extraordinary event took place in the tasting rooms of the Girlan Winery. 12 vintages of Vernatsch 'Gschleier' were tasted. The oldest wine was from 1976. Now one must know that Vernatsch is in most cases a young drinkable, light and pleasantly uncomplicated wine. With 'Gschleier' everything is different. It is made from 80 - 100 year old vines on one of the few south-facing sites in Girlan and has an unusually low yield - for Vernatsch wines - of 50 to 60 hectolitres per hectare. Marcus Hofschuster, who was present that evening, came to the following conclusion: "The oldest wines were the most convincing. The '76 reminded us of an excellently matured Beaujolais Cru or Villages Burgundy, and the '83 also shone with astonishing vitality and mineral bite despite its cloudy colour. Even in the opened bottle, most old Vernatsch held up surprisingly well for several hours" (see here).

Another Vernatsch from the Girlan comrades has played an important role in South Tyrol: The 'Faß Nr. 9'. It was the first wine from this variety to make it onto the wine lists of upscale restaurants. The Girlaner Genossen's tenacious adherence to Vernatsch and its presentation as a wine to be taken seriously have certainly contributed a great deal to the fact that this grape variety has now largely shed its image as a thin wine for drinking.

However, the Girlaner Genossen do not only offer exceptional wines with their traditional Vernatsch. The Pinot Blanc "Selection Plattenriegl", the aromatic Sauvignon "Selection Flora" and the Pinot Noir from Trattmannhof in the South Tyrolean lowlands are also outstanding growths. Girlaner is breaking new ground with its Riserva wines, which have been available since 2009. Here, the focus is on maturity and the cuvée of different varieties. The white wines are Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon. The first bottling from the 2007 vintage already reveals remarkable potential. The same applies to the red wine Riserva made from Cabernet and Merlot, although the wood could be used a little more moderately here. The extensive range currently comprises a total of 34 wines in the price range between 5 and 25 euros, although it is to be reduced considerably in the future, especially in the basic line.

Direct sales: Mon.- Fri. 9.00 - 12.30 and 15.00 - 19.00 as well as Saturday mornings.
St.-Martin-Straße 24, I-39057 GirlanTel.
: + 39 0471 662 403E-Mail
: info@girlan.it
Web: www.girlan.it

The Girlan Winery in the Wine Plus Guide:

Schreckbichl Winery: Pioneers of the International Style

Dr. Luis Raifer (Source: Schreckbichl Winery)

Luis Raifer, director of the Schreckbichl Winery until early 2010, was one of the first to usher in new times in South Tyrol in the early 1980s. South Tyrol's image as a wine region was not exactly the best at that time. It was mainly characterised by thin, simple wines that were drunk in large quantities for little money by wine-loving and rather unassuming Törggelen tourists to quench their thirst. The thirst of the customers abroad, however, became less and less. Luis Raifer, however, was not only bothered by the meagre operating result achieved with these wines. He was of the opinion that South Tyrol's possibilities had only really been exploited by a few producers up to then. So at the beginning of the 1980s he launched his project to improve quality, which was oriented towards an international style that had been unknown in South Tyrol until then. With the wines of the "Cornell" line, he created a quality wine concept that began in the vineyard. "At that time, producers were used to delivering as large quantities as possible. We had to take countermeasures. First of all, with a payment method that rewarded the quality of the grapes instead of the quantity. But also with intensive advice and training." In the cellar, the wines were vinified according to new methods. At that time, that meant above all: a lot of new wood. "By today's standards, that's certainly far too much. But people experimented a lot back then and the wines attracted a lot of attention. Today, the use of wood is more differentiated. Some wines, like Traminer, are matured without any wood at all, others, like Pinot Blanc, in large barrels. At the beginning of the 90s, the Cornell line was complemented by the wines called "Lafoa" (Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon). These are pure single vineyards from a vineyard on a hill between Girlan and Schreckbichl. Both are characterised by a strong structure and longevity. The total range currently comprises 25 wines divided into 3 product lines. Prices range from 6.50 to 25 euros. Some rarities are higher.

Direct sales: Mon - Fri: 9:00 - 12:30 and 14:30 - 18:00 and Saturday: 9:00 - 12:30Weinstraße
8, I-39057 GirlanTel.
+39 0471 664 246E-Mail

: info@colterenzio.it
Web: www.schreckbichl.it

Ignaz Niedrist: Return to Vernatsch

Ignaz Niedrist (Source: I.Niedrist)

Ignaz Niedrist was cellar master in Schreckbichl during the stormy years of upheaval and experienced "probably the most exciting and interesting years of South Tyrolean viticulture", as he confesses, here and subsequently in his own business. Now he is a self-marketing winegrower and with his current activities ensures that he will not be bored in the future. Firstly, he is constantly rebuilding his farm, and secondly, this year he is launching a project to help preserve Vernatsch as a quality wine. When he started marketing his own wines in 1990, he first uprooted all the Vernatsch vines and replaced them with other varieties. In the meantime, however, he searches for genetically high-quality vine material (such as old vines from high-quality clones like the Mittervernatsch) in vineyards where the Vernatsch is supposed to disappear, in order to multiply them in his brother's vine nursery and then plant them in his vineyards. The wine he has in mind is to be a somewhat different Vernatsch: "Stronger, more structured, but without losing its delicacy." From April 2010, you can taste this wine during a visit to Niedrist's house. Also: Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon, a white wine cuvée as well as the red wines Lagrein, Cabernet/Merlot and Pinot Noir. Like many of his colleagues, Ignaz Niedrist sees the most interesting prospects for high-quality South Tyrolean red wine in the latter. The ex-farm prices range from 8.50 to 18 euros.

Direct sales by appointment.
Runggweg5, I-39057 GirlanTel.
:+39 0471 664 494E-Mail



Niedermayr: Reflection on the essentials

Erika and Josef Niedermayr with Trux, who is unfortunately no longer with them (Source: Niedermayr)

After a restructuring in 2007, the Josef Niedermayr winery concentrates primarily on those wines that are made from grapes from their own vineyards or from leased vineyards. This enables a high level of quality on all three quality levels into which the Niedermayrs' range is divided. Even the level of the simpler wines is very appealing. The Niedermayrs are particularly fond of Pinot Noir, with which they are always good for pleasant surprises, as well as the wines of the farm at Pramol, a single vineyard near Eppan Berg near Sankt Pauls, where they produce pithy white wines at an altitude of 600 metres and experiment with new varieties.

For all the innovations that have recently found their way here, however, the Niedermayrs are also very keen to "respect the tradition and work of the founding family, but also the gratitude of being able to run a healthy family business." This led them to "give the past an honourable place in the redesign and modernisation of the company. "Thus, a small wine museum was set up, where all the signs of the past have found a new home, from the ox yoke from the last century to old transport barrels in which the wine was still brought to the imperial court in Vienna, a traditional pergola, and a library of old business books dating back to 1872. Groups can have tastings here by appointment. Prices of the wines range from five to 20 euros.

Direct sales: Jesuheimheimstraße 23 I-39057 GirlanTel.
+39.0471 662 451E-Mail
Web: www.niedermayr.it

The Niedermayr Winery in the Wine-Plus Guide:

Lorenz Martini: Animating cultivation of tradition

Lorenz Martini (Source: L.Martini)

Lorenz Martini is cellar master at the Niedermayrs, but also produces his own wine. And just like Erika and Josef Niedermayr, the cultivation of tradition is very close to his heart. In contrast to his work at the Niedermayrs, where he has to look after more than 20 different varieties, as a producer he concentrates on just one, namely sparkling wine made according to the traditional method of bottle fermentation. And this, although hardly known, has a long history in South Tyrol. As early as 1890, there was a "South Tyrolean Champagne Cellar" in Sankt Michael Eppan. It was founded to satisfy the demand of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy, who needed animating drinks for their festivities at their more than 300 castles and estates in the Überetsch region. After the First World War, when South Tyrol was annexed to Italy, trade with the north came to a standstill and with it the demand for sparkling wine. At the end of the 1970s, a few pioneers (Josef Reiterer/Arunda and Alois Ochsenreiter/Haderburg as well as the Kössler sparkling wine cellar in Sankt Pauls) began producing high-quality sparkling wine again according to the classic method. Lorenz Martini joined in the 80s and since 2000 he has had his own cellar in the centre of Girlan. Since he does not have to live from sparkling wine production alone, Lorenz Martini can approach the matter with his characteristic cheerful composure and afford a consistent focus on quality. "I want a strong sparkling wine with distinctive fruit, but above all also the maturity aromas that also characterise good champagnes." That's why he always takes his time before launching his 'Comitissa' (the name is meant to refer to South Tyrolean sparkling wine's past associated with nobility). Currently, the 2004 vintage is available, which fully lives up to Lorenz Martini's claim and can be purchased for 13 euros ex farm.

Direct sales by appointment.
Pranzollweg 2/D, I-39057 GirlanTel.
+39 0471 664136E-Mail



The Lorenz Martini Sparkling Wine Cellars in the Wine-Plus Guide:

K. Martini & Sohn: Maintaining family traditions

Lukas% Maren and Gabriel Martini (Source: G.Martini)

The founding of the K. Martini & Sohn winery in 1979 owed much to Karl Martini's restlessness. The father of the current owner, Gabriel Martini, worked for 20 years as a respected cellar master at the Schreckbichl Winery. Since he did not want to give up what he had enjoyed all his life even after his retirement, he continued to cellar some wine. "The whole thing had more of a hobby character," says Gabriel Martini, at that time still cellar master at the Gries Winery. Over time, the hobby became an increasingly professional pursuit, so that Gabriel Martini also decided to give up his dependent job and devote himself entirely to the family business. Father Karl used his many contacts to bring the wine to the people. Although the winery now produces around 250,000 bottles a year, it is still purely a family business, with Gabriel Martini and his two children Maren (sales) and Lukas (production) taking care of practically everything themselves. Most of the grapes are supplied by contract winegrowers from Girlan, Eppan, Kaltern, the Bolzano area and the Eisack Valley. A small area near Girlan is cultivated by the Martinis themselves. The diversity of origins is reflected in the range of wines on offer. From Müller-Thurgau from the Eisack Valley to the Vernatsch classics from Lake Kaltern to the selection wines from Pinot Noir, Lagrein and Cabernet, a large part of the varieties cultivated in South Tyrol are represented. The entire range currently comprises 25 wines in three quality lines at prices between 5 and 20 euros. The focus is of course on the wines from Girlan, here the traditional South Tyrolean wines - Pinot Blanc, Vernatsch and Pinot Noir - are the most important varieties for Gabriel and Lukas Martini.

Direct sales: Mon-Fri: 8.00-12.00, 14.30-18.30 Sat: 9.00-12.00Lammweg
28, 39057 GirlanTel.
+39 0471 663 156E-Mail

: info@martini-sohn.it
Web: www.martini-sohn.it

The K. Martini Winery in the Wine-Plus Guide:

Josef Weger: Radical Cut

Dr. Johannes Weger (Source: J.Weger)

"Almost our entire current production fits into one of these tanks," says Johannes Weger as he leads the visitor into the cellar in Girlan that was still built by his great-grandfather. Huge concrete containers with a capacity of up to 52 000 litres dominate the picture. But they are no longer needed. As with his neighbours, the Niedermayrs, the quantity in the Weger house has been drastically reduced. However, since in the past almost only large quantities of simple wine were bottled here, this step was more radical, i.e. not simply a product line was dropped, but the whole business was restructured from the ground up. There are no longer any litre-produced wines at all, and when it comes to wines in normal bottles, Johannes Weger focuses primarily on upmarket qualities, with Burgundy varieties being particularly close to his heart, as he appreciates their delicacy. "I want wines that are structured, but not jammy". And because he was relatively late in turning the business around, he was able to avoid the mistakes "that others often made in their overzealousness" when they produced wines overloaded with wood, which initially caused a stir, but which "nowadays no one wants anymore, and rightly so". Both his Pinot Noir and the blends from other international varieties are then also aged in wood, but this is used so skilfully that it does not impair the respective character and drinkability of the wines.

The range currently consists of 15 wines. Johannes Weger sells the best selections under the label 'Maso delle Rose'; they are now among the most outstanding wines of their kind in South Tyrol. Prices range from 8 euros for the white wines of the basic line to 25 euros for the selection wines.

Direct sales by telephone arrangement.
Jesuheimstraße 17, I-39057 GirlanTel.
+39 0471 662 416E-Mail

: info@wegerhof.it
Web: www.wegerhof.it

The Josef Weger Winery in the Wine-Plus Guide:

Strickerhof: Organic, because it simply has to be

The Kasseroller family (Source: K.Kasseroller)

When a family member fell ill with cancer in 1996, Karl Kasseroller decided to radically ban all chemicals from his vineyards and orchards. At the time, he was one of the first in South Tyrol to take this path and had to listen to a lot from his colleagues. However, the health of his family and his own was more important to him than the opinion of his neighbours, and so he consistently went through with the conversion to organic. This was not such a big problem with the apples, as the lower yield was more than compensated for by the higher price of organic produce. This also turned the initial scepticism of some colleagues into curious interest. With wine it was more difficult. "Here, the quality of the wine and the image of the winery primarily determine the price, and organic plays a rather subordinate role for consumers." Since the name Strickerhof is rather unknown, Karl Kasseroller has to draw attention to himself with the quality of his wines. In the meantime, he is succeeding very well. The Strickerhof products can be bought blind if you appreciate classic South Tyrolean drops such as Goldmuskateller, Vernatsch and Lagrein for everyday enjoyment. A speciality of the house is the rosé made from the fungus-resistant French variety Chambourcin. A great summer wine: slender and delicately fruity in the mouth, with clear fruit and fine acidity. As an organic producer, Karl Kasseroller is naturally interested in high-quality fungus-resistant varieties, which is why he will soon expand his range to include the white Bronner. The entire range currently comprises seven wines in the price range between five and ten euros. In addition, there are tasty grapes and apple juices.

Direct sales by telephone arrangement.
Boznerstrasse 62, I-39010 Frangart/EppanTel.
+39 0471 633 402E-Mail



The wines of the winery in the Wine-Plus Guide:

Alois Warasin: Concentration on one's own

Detail of the winery (Source: G.Warasin)

Alois Warasin is the fourth generation to run his family business, but until 2005 he was the full-time cellar master at the Sankt Pauls Winery. Now he exclusively takes care of his own winery and wants to develop it more and more in the direction of quality. He still sells some of his wine openly to local restaurants and customers who bottle their own wine at home. The open wine is not bad at all, but in the future Alois Warasin wants to concentrate more and more on the 7/10th qualities, which are made exclusively from his own grapes. He only bottles four varieties that grow best on his sites around Girlan: Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon, Vernatsch and Pinot Noir. The aim is to produce finely fruity, elegant wines. He comes very close to achieving this with the whites and the Vernatsch. At the moment, Pinot Noir is certainly still lacking in depth of fruit and structure, but this will certainly change in the future. The sales prices at the farm are between 4 and 7 euros.

Direct sales by telephone arrangement.
Schreckbichl 1, I-39057 GirlanTel.
+39 0471 662 462E-Mail



Restaurant recommendations of the Girlan producers.

Two addresses were mentioned by all producers in Girlan, the Marklhof (+39 0471 662 407) and the Ansitz Pillhof (+39 0471 633 100).
The former is the traditional restaurant in Girlan and offers classic South Tyrolean cuisine on an upscale level as well as cordial service.
The Ansitz Pillhof in the district of Frangart has one of the most impressive wine selections in South Tyrol. Here, too, classic South Tyrolean cuisine is served with a certain Mediterranean touch.

The prices in both restaurants are somewhat upmarket. For what is offered, however, they are absolutely reasonable.

The Arena Restaurant in the Weinegg Hotel (+39-0471-662-511) in the centre of the village also offers refined South Tyrolean food in the same price range. A simple, quite cosy restaurant, with a beautiful and - except for the three tables by the vent - also quiet garden is the Restaurant Zum Falken

(+39-0471-662-606) in the historic centre of Girlan. It offers classic South Tyrolean dishes in the medium price range.

Useful addresses

:Roter HahnAgencies
farm accommodation in South Tyrol
Among them are also many farm wine producers. The quality criteria are very strict and are checked annually.

Tel: +39 0471 999325Fax
: +39 0471 981171E-Mail
: info@roterhahn.it

Eppan Tourist AssociationCity Hall Square
1 - I-39057 EppanTel

. +39

+39 0471 663546


Free Winegrowers of South TyrolAssociation of
currently 82 self-marketing

South Tyrolean

wineries. An absolute must for every South Tyrolean wine lover: the Vinea Tirolensis, at which almost all member wineries present their current wines. Usually at the end of August in the Bolzano Municipal Theatre.
Tel.: +39 0471-238002E-Mail
: info@fws.it

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