Controversial, but Unquestionably Successful

Controversial, but Unquestionably Successful

Peter Dipoli: a cosmopolitan pioneer of new varieties and terroir

Peter Dipoli is what you might call a person with a brilliant mind and a visionary. Without a doubt, he does not make compromises, take shortcuts to success, or try to be liked by other people - when it comes to his passion for wine. He is also going off the beaten track because, it was the wine and not the winery – that came first at the outset of his career.

In fact, Peter Dipoli did not grow up on a wine estate. A fruit farmer’s son, he did not cultivate a passion for apples, but wine. He therefore received a solid education at the College of Agriculture in San Michele and, in the 1970s and 1980s, he delved into the wine world for some years. Not by chance, he set out to visit wine producing areas all over the world and familiarized himself with their unique features.

Dipoli describes his interest in the wide world of wine as “looking beyond the mountains,” and he also stresses the importance of doing so in the late 1980s. This is why, on his travels, Dipoli was always followed by open-minded and inquisitive winegrowers and winemakers from Alto Adige. They were not alone in taking advantage from his networking. The strategic contacts he created and his commitment led to the foundation of the local Association of Independent Winegrowers, its national counterpart (FIVI), and the Pinot Nero Days, the Riesling Days and the Sauvignon Experience.

As someone who has always dreamt of becoming a winemaker, it did not take long for Dipoli’s knowledge and skills to influence the vineyards. “I realised my dream in 1988. In those days, my family could finally afford a small vineyard in Penone, in the municipality of Cortaccia,” he says. His new vineyards are planted with Schiava grapes, which was common in Alto Adige at that time – and a tradition which, according to wine experts, should not have been carried on. Dipoli sums up the dilemma of those years with these words: “You could make good wine, but there was no economic return." The question that our sophisticated wine connoisseur therefore keeps asking himself is: “What should I plant here?” After analysing natural conditions, learning about the vineyard, comparing his findings on soil, climate, and altitude, conducting experiments, Dipoli finally settled on Sauvignon. The reasons he gives for his decision reveal a lot about his advanced wine knowledge: “Sauvignon is a wine with character,” he firmly asserts. Then he goes on saying: “I suspected that for this variety, the altitude would create similar growing conditions to the Loire Valley, where Sauvignon covers the largest area under cultivation.”

Dipoli’s analytical and far-sighted approach would prove successful, having brought Sauvignon to be the most widespread variety in the area surrounding his winery. This no mere chance, but the positive outcome of a special winegrower’s philosophy: “Great wines can only be made where a particular variety finds its ideal growing conditions,” he says. “A finished wine will only result from the combination of a valuable grapevine variety and the right terroir.”

Peter Dipoli’s credo made him, since the late 1980s, a pioneer in grapevine varieties and terroir and thus, one of the founding-fathers of Alto Adige’s modern wine industry. A passionate winegrower settled in Egna, he believes that the duty of a cellarmaster is not to follow trends. Rather, if this groundbreaker from the town of Egna has his way, the grapes must become wine that respects the terroir, habitat and vintage and reflects their distinctive nature – and no more.

But no less either.
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