Eleven Generations of Enthusiasm

Eleven Generations of Enthusiasm

Josephus Mayr, Unterganzner inherited estate: observing traditions and pursuing new avenues

Eleven generations of the Mayr family, all of them wine growers, have made the Unterganzner inherited estate in Kardaun/Cardano – at the very far north-eastern edge of the Bolzano/Bozen valley basin – what it is today. Wine-growing activities at this place can be tracked back to 1629: more than 400 years of viticulture which make the 40 years during which Josephus Mayr headed the business seem like a fleeting moment.

But make no mistake: 40 years of hard work, dedication, and innovation have gone into the family’s vineyard. And during these 40 years, Josephus Mayr turned the Unterganzner inherited estate into a figurehead of wine production in Alto Adige. One of his lasting achievements is the Lamarein: the prototype of a sophisticatedly concentrated Lagrein made partially from dried grapes. At the same time, he experimented with fungus-resistant grape varieties in newly developed areas higher above sea level, proving that arbor trellising (Pergola Trentina) is not at all an antiquated vine training system but, on the contrary, still a contemporary and sustainable concept to help produce top-quality wines.

Centuries of tradition may weigh down heavy on the shoulders of some, but they have given Josephus Mayr wings. It may be because of his passion for wine and the fact that he is always striving for something new and following where his visions lead him. Or it may be because of the strong ties he feels with his predecessors. “It feels good to be able to imagine who the people were who managed the farm before we did,” says Josephus Mayr. “At the same time, we are by all means obligated to look toward the future.”

In doing so, Mayr’s spirit of innovation seems to know no boundaries between business units: under his command, new vineyards were cultivated, new varieties planted, new ways of vinification explored. One of those ways led straight underground, seeing as Josephus Mayr repurposed a tunnel under one of his vineyards and used it as a rock-cut cellar. “This was a dream come true,” says Mayr, pointing out the ideal temperature and humidity to store some of his best wines. Josephus Mayr works hand in hand with his son in the new cellar. “He is very well trained and contributes new ideas,” he says happily. “I’m very happy to see our business receiving yet another innovation push.”

At first glance, it may seem like a matter of course for the eleventh generation to take over the Unterganzner estate – but not if you consider the hardships that come with life as a wine grower. “The year is long and taxing and requires a lot of commitment from the family and workers,” says Josephus Mayr. Which makes it all the more a cause for celebration for a wine grower when the grapes turn out to be beautiful.

But the highlight of the working year doesn’t come until the winemakers get to taste their own wines. Josephus Mayr doesn’t disagree. After all, that is when the fruit of their labor becomes tangible reality. “Being able to taste the wine you worked so hard to make is the joy made double,” says Mayr enthusiastically. “You know that the product is real and that it’s a gift from nature itself.”

All toil aside, it seems as if Josephus Mayr, vintner and pioneer of wine, would never trade places with anyone. As a winemaker, you can go with the seasons and watch the vines grow and thrive, he says. And another thing: “I love being able to pursue this career.”
Another taste?
More from the world of Alto Adige wine
Back to the list
Impressions of Wine:Experienced, enjoyed, shared
Always up to date with the Suedtirol Wein newsletter