The Sparkling Wine Pioneer of Alto Adige

The Sparkling Wine Pioneer of Alto Adige

Josef Reiterer provides a bubbly indulgence at the Arunda sparkling winery

The Arunda sparkling winery is located in Mölten/Meltina, high above the Etschtal valley, at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level. That makes it not only the highest situated sparkling winery in Europe but also the life’s work of Josef Reiterer, who is regarded as the sparkling wine pioneer of Alto Adige. He was among the first to revive and – as one would put it if one were speaking of wine – bring to full ripeness the tradition of sparkling wine from Alto Adige in the 1970s.

It was quite a coincidence, however, that Josef Reiterer even got acquainted with wine in the first place. There are no vines in his hometown of Mölten; when he was little, there wasn’t even a road down into the valley. The only way to get there was by cable car, but that wouldn’t get the boy to school in time. Therefore, young Josef needed a place to stay in the valley – and he found it in a vineyard in Vilpian/Vilpiano, of all places. “That’s where I got to know grapes,” Reiterer says, looking back. An acquaintance that quite obviously blossomed into a lifelong love.

Josef Reiterer trained as a winemaker and toured the wine-growing regions and businesses in Italy in that capacity. “Back then, many wineries used to sell base wines to Italian businesses,” he recounts. There, Josef Reiterer saw and tasted the sparkling wines that could be made from Alto Adige wines. It was a decisive moment in the life of this man, who would later earn a reputation as the sparkling wine pope of Alto Adige: “I had the courage to introduce that myself in Alto Adige.”

That is how the Arunda sparkling winery was born, where Josef Reiterer dedicated his work to enhancing the base wines of Alto Adige. “The fascination,” he says, “lies in bringing out the best in the base wines separately or blended into a cuvée.” The blending of cuvées – using, for example, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Nero – is a very specific challenge. “You need to know your wines very well and be able to tell how they are going to develop in the next three or five years,” says Reiterer.

In his quest for the ideal blend for the Arunda sparkling wines, Josef Reiterer not only benefited from his training but also from his by then 40 years of experience. And so he created cuvées which allowed the individual components not only to fully unfold but, above all, to work together to create that elusive, complex bouquet which Reiterer was looking for in his products.

At the end of the day, however, the secret of the best sparkling wine lies not just in the quality of the base wines and the ideal blend thereof. A very important ingredient is also patience. “Our sparkling wines age for three to eight years,” says Reiterer, who favors the traditional bottle fermentation method. “It is particularly important, because the complex flavors can only develop when they age at a certain temperature,” Reiterer explains.

And so there are approximately 400,000 bottles stored at Arunda at optimum conditions. 400,000 bottles which not only express the creativity of sparkling wine pioneer Josef Reiterer but also, as Reiterer himself puts it, “the positive life.” “The bubbly brings out what you’ve achieved in over 40 years of work,” Josef Reiterer says, adding: “Every sip is a significant moment in life.”
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