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30.05.2017

Wine from extreme sites

Wine-growing at more than 1,000 metres above sea level is a fact of daily life for these three Alto Adige vintners

Global warming and its consequences. This is a subject of heated debate amongst Alto Adige wine-growers, especially the question of whether wine-growing at higher altitudes can escape the effects. In this context, those wine producers who have been doing this for years are increasingly focusing on cultivating wine at very high altitudes, making them pioneers in this area.

Such as the Tiefenbrunner wine estate. As long ago as 1972 Herbert Tiefenbrunner planted Müller-Thurgau vines at 1,000 metres on the southern slopes of Unterfennberg. He knew the virtues of the early ripening white wine variety and was determined "to create not just an experimental wine estate but one that would actually be profitable”. Thanks to his exceptional pioneering spirit and experience accumulated over many years, he was able to overcome even the harshest setbacks: for example, after the extremely dry and cold winter of 1980/81 the entire vineyard had to be re-established. Today the Müller-Thurgau “Feldmarschall von Fenner” is one of the estate’s most prestigious wines.

The Weinhof Calvenschlössl in Laudes in Val Venosta currently manages the highest lying vineyard in Alto Adige. At 1,340 meters above sea level on the steep southern slopes of the Marienberg Monastery in Burgusio, the Van den Dries wine-growing family has been growing fungus-resistant grape varieties since 2013. This maintains the established philosophy of sustainable organic wine-growing which has already proved itself in other equally high-lying sites of the estate. "Cool nights and hot days produce grapes with a high sugar content, a distinctive acidity and an incomparably fruity aroma", comments the young wine-grower Hilde Van den Dries with great pleasure.

Wine producer Franz Haas is also convinced that special wines can be produced at high altitude sites. Light and air conditions, properties of the soil and the great temperature differences between day and night influence the character of the wine. In 2012 the wine-grower from the Unterland planted traditional grape varieties in a new vineyard at 1,150 metres above sea level near the Eggerhof farm in Aldino - and the harvested grapes fully lived up to his high expectations. The new Pinot Noir in particular from these sites is very promising. “We plan to plant a further 10 hectares on different types of soil at altitudes between 900 and 1,100 metres," is Franz Haas' contribution to the current debate.
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