“The most beautiful natural architecture in the world”, said the world-famous architect Le Corbusier of the Dolomites. Owing to their beauty and uniqueness, these “artworks of nature” were in 2009 deemed a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
Alto Adige’s greatest attraction lies without a doubt in the contrast between the colder, Alpine and continental climate and the warm Mediterranean climate, between the German and Italian cultures, between the mountains and the sea… to all of these delightful contrasts can be added 300 days of sunshine a year, a thriving mountain-farm economy, careful management of natural resources and unique flora and fauna.
Did you know…? A few facts and figures about this land:
- Alto Adige is the northernmost province of Italy: it borders on Austria and Switzerland and was always considered a link between northern and southern Europe.
- Today it has 500,000 inhabitants and three official languages: Italian, German and Ladin. Bozen/Bolzano, population 100,000, is the capital of Alto Adige.
- Ass well as its wonderful mountains, which are ideal for skiing and walking, the romantic Wine Route allows visitors to take in cities, villages, museums on the and over 150 forts and castles.
But what would a holiday be without good food and fine wine? From farmhouse inns to gourmet restaurants, in Alto Adige can be found typical Alto Adigeean dishes such as dumplings and speck alongside Italian cuisine, with a vast choice of top restaurants in charming localities.
Winegrowing in Alto Adige
Alto Adige is an example of the change that took place in the 1980s. More is less, more quality means less quantity. Today Alto Adige’s white wines are considered to be Italy’s best.
- The winegrowing area is only 5,300 hectares in size, representing around 1% of the total in Italy.
- Alto Adige has three native grape varieties that have become known beyond its borders: Vernatsch (Schiava), Gewürztraminer and Lagrein. The wine-producing land of Alto Adige offers much more, however: around twenty different varieties are cultivated here, of which 60% are white wines and 40% are reds.
- The 300 days a year on which the sun shines, the large temperature differences between day and night and the variety of soils give the wines of this area their unique character.
- A good 98% of Alto Adigeean wines are DOC certified. The DOC production areas of Alto Adige are Südtiroler, Kalterersee, Südtiroler Eisacktaler, Südtiroler St. Magdalener, Südtiroler Terlaner, Südtiroler Meraner, Südtiroler Vinschgau, and Südtiroler Bozner Leiten.
What makes the Oltradige area so attractive for winegrowing?
With 32% of the total, the Oltradige area is the centre of winegrowing in Alto Adige. It extends between Eppan and Caldaro at heights of between 200 and 700 metres above sea level.
This area is distinguished by its very varied soil composition: limestone, porphyry and moraines influence the different soil types.
Both white wines (Chardonnay, Weissburgunder [Pinot Bianco], Grauburgunder [Pinot Grigio], Sauvignon Blanc, Müller Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Goldmuskateller [Moscato Giallo]) and red wines (Lagrein, Vernatsch, Rosenmuskateller [Moscato Rosa], Blauburgunder [Pinot Nero], Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) are produced in the Oltradige area.
The microclimate of Lake Caldaro makes it the ideal place for the Vernatsch grape. Only the best wines receive the quality seal of the Lake Caldaro Charter. A Kalterersee wine can only obtain this seal if strict production regulations are met and it passes a blind tasting by a specialist jury.
Historical overview of winegrowing in Alto Adige
The tradition of the winegrowing region of Alto Adige stretches back over 3,000 years.
Roman times: the idea of the wooden barrel as a storage and transport container for wine was probably taken by the Romans from the Rhaetian peoples.
Middle Ages: many winegrowing estates were in the possession of Bavarian monasteries and Bavarian aristocrats, who had the wine transported over the Alps.
19th and 20th centuries: winegrowing was very positively developed in Alto Adige by the families of wine merchants and later the winegrowing co-operatives.
1980s: a basic change in winegrowing strategy saw a move from quantity production to an uncompromising requirement for quality.
Today: Today: Wines from Alto Adige are among the best in Italy and regularly receive excellent reviews in the national and international wine press.