Surrounded by Austria and Italy, there is a very charming place: Alto Adige or South Tyrol. Although South Tyrol actually belongs to Italy, it is different. Different in terms of language, in terms of living and eating as well as in terms of thinking. I believe it is the combination of Austrian cosiness and Italian lifestyle combined with the charm of historic properties and cities like Merano, Bolzano or Brixen. All this makes this region so unique and exceptional. For me – and as you can see, I am a real addict – it is the perfect place for a weekend or of course longer get-away…
South Tyrol’s wine industry looks back on a tradition of more than 2000 years. The most important wine area is around Appiano (“Eppan”) with about 15 different grape varieties. Thanks to the sunny and mild weather (300 days of sunshine) and the particular lay of the land, Alto Adige offers perfect conditions for making wine. The mainly white grape vines are in good hands: More than 20 wine and spirit producers have joint forces, creating the “eppan platform” to strengthen the wine industry. Asking the wine producers of Appiano they proudly say “wine is not simply produced but rather tasted and celebrated”.
Particular highlights of the local wine culture are diverse events where culture, flavors and conviviality come together. Over 15 events a year are organized, including tastings, themed parties and gourmet food as well as wine events.
Recently, I talked to Christine Mayr about South Tyrol. Christine is president of the South Tyrolean Association of Sommeliers and knows the area like the back of her hand. Get her insider tips…
Mrs. Mayr, where are you originally from and why do you live in South Tyrol?
I was born in France by a French mother but I grew up in Bolzano. I live there because of my family. The landscape is really breathtaking und the towns are very homely – it’s like living in a little village…very relaxed. So I enjoy it really to live in such a beautiful WINE country
What makes South Tyrol as wine region so exciting and unique?
Our wine growing area is very multifaceted and diverse. Even though the wine production is quite small the producers can lean on different microclimates and soils. And the dynamism of our producers.
What are the biggest challenges South Tyrol as a wine region faces in the next few years?
Global warming and side selection; the focus on a fewer grape varieties…..
What are your favorite wines?
I like our white wines: Riesling from Val Venosta, Pinot Bianco from Appiano, the white blends from Terlano, Sylvaner from Valle d’Isarco, Gewürztraminer from Termeno for example. And obviously as a Champagne Ambassador I like sparkling wines. And there are good reasons to choose a sparkler from Alto Adige.
The perfect food pairing with a South Tyrolean wine?
A glass of Vernatsch slightly chilled with our Tyrolean dumplings. A glass of Gewürztraminer with our smoked ham, the speck, a Lagrein rosato with a marinated trout……..
What you should not miss to see when visiting South Tyrol?
Our beautiful vineyards, stretched all over the countryside….
I hope you’ll soon have the opportunity to visit South Tyrol and enjoy the authentic taste of extraordinary wines and the charm of historic properties, I am sure, you’ll like it too!
Photography of Vineyards in Alto Adige by Frauke Kausch, 2017