Deep Roots, Lofty Science

Deep Roots, Lofty Science

Willi Stürz: in dialogue with winegrowers and scientists for over 30 years

Willi Stürz is a true “Traminer”, a term with a double meaning, when it comes to wine. His passion for wine began at an early age in his home village called Termeno and known as Tramin in German: “I was born and raised in Termeno and thus had a natural connection with winegrowing,” Stürz recounts. And probably also a bond with Gewürztraminer, the grape variety that bears the name of the village in the Bassa Atesina region of Alto Adige/Südtirol.

So, it is no wonder that Willi Stürz has been the winemaker of the Cantina Tramin for over 30 years now. He took the role in 1992, when winemaking was still rooted in old techniques. Back then, Schiava vines covered almost 80% of the cooperative cellar´s land: these were not only native to Alto Adige, but they also responded to the needs of the local wine sector - or what it thought it needed - up until the 1980s: quantity.
However, as mass production reached a dead end in the 1980s and plunged winemaking in Alto Adige into a deep crisis, Willi Stürz did what was necessary upon taking the helm in Termeno: he reversed course. His focus was no longer on quantity but on quality, while the Schiava grape too had largely had its day: it made way for white varieties, which now dominate the scene of the Cantina Tramin and encompass around 70% of the planted area.

Among these white varieties was Gewürztraminer, which has now become the most widely grown grape on the land of the Termeno cooperative. Anyone who might think that this is a matter of course for Termeno is quite mistaken. However, it was thanks to Willi Stürz and his consistent quality policy that Gewürztraminer experienced a renaissance, making the leap from the bottom shelves of the supermarkets to one of the most respected white wines all over Italy – and beyond.

The ascent of Gewürztraminer and the Cantina Tramin accordingly, is therefore due to Stürz’s consistency and willingness to take risks. Not to mention his meticulousness, which can be felt not only in the cellar but also in the vineyard. Stürz is involved in different core responsibilities: the planting of ideal vineyards, the selection of suitable varieties, the strategies to implement, and the respect of the winery’s quality policy.
In doing so, Stürz manages to draw on both his deep-rooted knowledge of winegrowing and the world of science with its constant search for innovative solutions. He has therefore always sought a close relationship with winegrowers. “They go back and forth in their vineyards every day and, if anything happens, they can quickly understand how it would be best to react,” Stürz says. “This sensibility can be perceived in the wine quality.”

At the same time, Stürz seeks contact with science and scientists. He is firmly convinced that only by innovating both the vineyard and the cellar, will the local knowledge receive the impulse and inspiration it needs to develop further. “I believe that a face-to-face interaction with scientists and students are of enormous importance. It enables us to reach conclusions for our territory,” he explains.

For Stürz, his roots in the land and search for innovation are the two pillars of the Cantina Tramin’s success – now for three decades with Stürz at its head.
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