Südtirol/Alto Adige Wines

Alto Adige  

Südtirol/Alto Adige Wines became a supporter of the Institute in 2010 and contributes to the education programme. It also provides an outstanding continuous professional development opportunity for the Institute’s members through an annual visit to the region for up to 10 Masters of Wine who are active student mentors.

Südtirol/Alto Adige is one of the smallest wine-growing areas in Italy. Wine culture and tradition are closely linked in this region on the southern side of the Alps. Innumerable generations of winegrowers have influenced the history of viticulture in Südtirol/Alto Adige, where beautiful vineyards, with a backdrop of snow-covered mountains are synonymous with unique, high quality wines.

Archaeological excavations indicate the existence of viticulture long before the Romans occupied the Adige Valley. Many diverse peoples have settled and influenced the region during the course of time, particularly the Bavarian and Swabian dioceses and abbeys who cultivated vines and developed viticulture in Südtirol/Alto Adige. Today there are about 12,500 acres of vineyard planted along the Adige and Isarco River.

While Südtirol/Alto Adige represents only 0.7% of Italy’s total production, it leads the country in wine meriting a DOC designation: 98% of its wines fall into this category. The region boasts diverse types of producers from small independent winegrowers to larger wine estates and cooperative wineries. Fifteen cooperative wineries produce almost 70% of the region’s wine. The remaining 30% is produced by wine estates and independent winegrowers.

Südtirol/Alto Adige is a diverse region with climate and soil variations even within its smallest localities. The region is blessed with more than 300 days of sunshine, wide day-night temperature swings and an average growing season temperature of over 18° C. It is also home to what is often referred to as “the most beautiful mountains in the world”, the snow-capped Dolomites, which not only serve as postcard-perfect sites for winter and summer sports, but also protect the vineyards from cold, damaging winds. The lowest vineyards are located at 750 feet and the highest reach 3,250 feet above sea level.

The composition of soil includes dolomitic rock, fluvial deposits and porphyry in the Adige Valley, the Oltradige and the Bassa Atesina. This includes moraine debris and volcanic deposits in the Bolzano basin and slaty primitive rock in the Isarco Valley and Val Venosta.

Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay dominate the white varieties, while Sauvignon Blanc enjoys increasing popularity and success. The aromatic, spicy Gewürztraminer variety – that got its name from the village of Tramin – has a special place in Südtirol/Alto Adige winemaking. Sylvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner, Veltliner and Riesling grow primarily in the cooler sites and Moscato Giallo completes the white varietal range of Südtirol/Alto Adige.

The native Schiava black grape variety dominates in Südtirol/Alto Adige, accounting for almost 25% of total vineyard area. The velvety Lagrein, also a native variety, is also widely planted. For over a century the noble Bordeaux and Burgundy black varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, have been planted in Südtirol/Alto Adige. Malvasier and Moscato Rosa, while rare, complete the red varietal assortment.

Delicious, diverse, unpretentious and authentic, these wines truly reflect the character of this magnificent region. Today discerning wine drinkers have discovered Südtirol/Alto Adige as a source of elegant and aromatic white wines, the type of wine which only the mixture of southern sun and crisp Alpine air can produce. The red wines, also much sought after because of their succulent fruit and velvety tannins are characterized by fruit rather than austerity.

For further information, visit the Südtirol/Alto Adige Wines website.