The winners of the Wine Culture Award 2022

The Wine Culture Award winners tell us about their lives

A life of wine

Passion for wine, a love of detail and joy in their profession: The winners of the Wine Culture Award exemplify these qualities. This year’s award was presented to two ambassadors for Alto Adige wines and the wine culture of the region, namely the “Vinzenz - zum feinen Wein” restaurant in Vipiteno and the “Daniel Hütte”. We met up with them to find out more about the things that motivate them from day to day, and how they transform the cultural heritage of Alto Adige wines into a tangible experience.

Restaurant “Vinzenz zum feinen Wein”
Interview with sommelier Veronika Stötter

  1. When did your love for Alto Adige wines begin?

    Daniel and I (editor’s note: Veronika Stötter and Daniel Planer run the restaurant together) and have been involved in the wine sector for over 20 years. Daniel first started working in this field immediately after graduating from agricultural college; initially, he worked as an apprentice at the Lageder vinotheque in Bolzano followed by a few years at Manincor winery, after which he returned to Alois Lageder, where he worked in sales. At the beginning of 2009 we opened the “Vinzenz zum feinen Wein” vinotheque in Sterzing, in my parents’ house.

    I, on the other hand, graduated in Public Relations in Milan, after which I took a sommelier course in Bolzano and began to work in the local hospitality sector, which is when my own love of wine began to take shape.

    We spent a lot of time travelling around to tasting sessions and visiting local vineyards. This was very important to us, as it is only through direct contact with winegrowers that one can really learn about wines, their origins and their characteristic features, and thus gain a better understanding of connections and develop one’s expertise.

  2. How do you incorporate the Alto Adige wine culture into your everyday lives?

    We’ve been doing it for over 20 years, as we work with wine on a daily basis and have built up a sizeable cellar: depending on how much we purchase, the number of labels we carry varies from 750 to 900 different wines. We source our wines with meticulous care together with the vintners before adding them to our wine list. We change our by-the-glass range every week, and offer our guests wine pairings matched to our menu every day.

    We always offer our guests a sample taste. We then consult with them and bear their preferences in mind when giving them an overview and explanation of Alto Adige wines.

  3. How do you share with this culture with your guests?

    It is important to us that our staff know their wines, and are capable of explaining the characteristics of the various grapes, and of giving good recommendations. 80% of the wines that are drunk here are recommendations!

    For this reason, we spend some time every day speaking to our staff about our open bottles, and analyse their differences together. We regularly take staff who are interested along with us on “training tours” to our partners, the wine producers. During these trips to cellars and tasting sessions, they have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and affinity with Alto Adige wines. We often give them a bottle or two to take home, so that they can taste it in their free time too.

    Of course, pouring our guests a glass of wine is not all we do; we also explain what they are drinking and tell them about the terroir of the wine. If they are particularly interested, we are always happy to give them more information about the wine, the grape varietal, the winemaker, the vineyard, the vinification methods and the work in the vineyard. We also store a few vintage bottles from Alto Adige producers, which we uncork when they reach the ideal drinking age.

  4. What distinguishes your business from others?

    From the very beginning, we have always avoided trendy drinks and mixed cocktails such as Spritz Veneziano and soft drinks like, for example, cola. We serve sparkling wines from Alto Adige as aperitifs, and also offer other traditional non-alcoholic beverages such as organic Alto Adige apple juice or apple and apricot juice.

  5. How important is the quality of food and wine to you?

    The quality of our core products is essential. As a Slow Food company, we source our foods directly from the suppliers, and aim to keep our wholesale purchases to a minimum. The core products must be of the highest quality, which also eases the workload in the kitchen. We avoid large wholesaler lists, and select each and every wine with great care to provide our guests with a guarantee of quality, so that they know they can trust our recommendations and try out a new wine from time to time.

  6. What do you love about Alto Adige wines?

    Alto Adige is a very special region with an immense variety in a small area which, in our opinion, is undercultivated and appreciated even by the people of Alto Adige themselves. The various microclimates in the winegrowing areas of Alto Adige boast an enormous array of grape varietals and terrains. The Alto Adige wine producers and the many small-scale winegrowers ensure that old traditions and new skills can head towards the future hand in hand, and that viticulture will continue to occupy its central role in our region.
“Daniel Hütte” mountain hut
Interview with Martin Demez, the host of the hut

  1. When did your love for Alto Adige wines begin?

    It was passed down to me from my father who, in turn, inherited this love from my grandfather, Daniel. Even at a young age I developed a keen passion for wines. My father, Samuel, is a passionate sommelier and taught me about the wine culture of Alto Adige with patience and an immense breadth of knowledge. The subject in itself, the variety of tastes and the emotional experience are an endless source of fascination for me.

  2. How do you incorporate the Alto Adige wine culture into your everyday life?

    It is a cultural heritage and should be nurtured in all its facets. The best way to appreciate it is by looking, reading, learning and tasting. I have been working at the Daniel Hütte mountain hut on the Seceda for 9 years, and speak to wine connoisseurs from all over the world on a daily basis. I run the hut together with my family and my girlfriend Valeria, and often participate in tasting rounds organised by leading names in the Alto Adige wine sector. I also travel to producers on a regular basis to taste wines together.

  3. How do you share this culture with your guests?

    My father and I have tasted every wine on our list several times over, so that we can offer our guests a wine-tasting experience based on well-founded knowledge of wines. Another aspect of great importance to me is our daily wine recommendations; we pair these wines with our dishes, and sometimes offer non-regional wines, from Tuscany or Germany, for example. Whenever possible, however, I always prefer to offer guests new wines from Alto Adige.

  4. What distinguishes your business from others?

    Above all, our guests appreciate our mountain hut for our cuisine, which is predominantly regional, and our vast selection of wines from all over the world. Our wines are cellared in our own traditional wine cellar at 2,240 metres above sea level; we store over 400 different wine labels here, most of which are from Alto Adige. From Alto Adige wineries and vineyards through to small-scale wine producers: We have it all. Our hut is particularly famed for our older and mature vintages, and we also stock several vintages of many of our wines, which my father has set aside over the years.

  5. How important is the quality of food and wine to you?

    We place great importance on the quality of our food and, whenever possible, buy only regional seasonal products.

    When I was young, I would go on discovery tours with my father and my grandfather. From Lake Garda olive oil to special potatoes from Verona, which we stored at the hut in summer, through to trips to wine cellars with tasting sessions, there was nothing that we missed!

    The sustainability of our products, which I select together with my father, is a matter of great importance to me, as is the excellent working relationship with producers and farmers from Alto Adige who supply us with our fresh products every day.

  6. What do you love about Alto Adige wines?

    I greatly appreciate the team spirit and the fantastic cooperation amongst Alto Adige winemakers. Alto Adige is a very small winegrowing area which, through hard work and dedication, has celebrated many successes over the last few years and made a name for itself in the world of wine.
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