Have you ever been to Alto Adige?
It’s one of my favourite Italian wine regions.
Alto Adige is based at the foothills of the Alps. Austria has influenced this region so much that the majority first language is German. In fact, Alto Adige is also called Südtirol.
Alto Adige is amazing, not only in terms of wine but throughout the region. You can enjoy unforgettable experiences, from hiking to winter sports, and from Christmas markets to thermal spas.
Not to mention the food specialities such as canederli, strudel, or spätzle.
My suggestion is to visit in different seasons in order to have a full overview of the region.
But back to talking about wine from Alto Adige.
I’ll give you all the info that you need to know about the territory. In addition, I recently took part in an online masterclass about weather conditions during the 2019 vintage (the last available on the market) with Eros Teboni. Great, in a nutshell. I’ll share all the details with you.
Are you ready?
Growing Environment for wines from Alto Adige
The climate of Alto Adige is mild Alpine continental.
The Alps protect the region from northern cold winds, while the south is influenced by warm air currents. Rainfall is sufficient. Around 300 days of sunshine and significant day-night temperature swings during the growing season complete the picture to ensure ideal conditions for high-quality grapes.
The topography of Alto Adige varies considerably and there are a lot of microclimate conditions. Twenty different grape varieties are cultivated in the range between 200 m and 1,000 m above sea level.
There are different types of soils: volcanic porphyry, quartz and mica rock, dolomitic limestone, and sandy marl. The soil determines which grape variety grows.
Seven winegrowing regions
The total surface area of the vineyards is around 5,500 hectares.
All the previous factors help to identify seven winegrowing regions: Bassa Atesina, Oltradige, Bolzano, Adige Valley, Merano, Isarco Valley, and Val Venosta. Let’s analyse them more in depth!
It’s the southernmost, largest and warmest winegrowing area. The Mediterranean influence is good for the late-ripening varieties. The production is more focussed on white varieties (Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer) than red varieties (Schiava, Pinot Noir).
The elevation of the vineyards is between 200-1,000 m above sea level.
Particular attention should be paid to the villages of Termeno for Gewürztraminer, and Mazzon and Montagna for Pinot Noir.
An area full of vineyards and castles. Appiano and Caldaro are well-known for their Schiava tradition.
Also the production of Oltradige is mainly based on white wine (Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer) instead of red wine (Schiava). Vineyards are located in the range of 300-700 m above sea level.
Bolzano is the Alto Adige’s capital. This area forms a warm and fertile basin in the Alps. Red varieties are the main produce (Schiava, Lagrein). Santa Maddalena is a very important site for the production of Schiava.
The vineyards of the Bolzano area are located between 250-900 m above sea level.
It’s ideal for white wines, especially around the villages of Terlano, Nalles, and Andriano. Soils are dry, so the roots of the vines have to penetrate very deeply.
The most important varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Schiava, Lagrein. They’re grown at the altitudes of 250-900 m above sea level.
Merano is famous for wellness. The wine production is aided by the balanced climate and the sandy soil. Vineyards are between 300-800 m above sea level.
The main grape varieties are Schiava, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc.
Also here, Schiava finds its ideal growing conditions to ensure the production of good wines.
Surrounded by Alpine peaks, here the wine production is almost all white with Müller Thurgau, Sylvaner, Kerner, and Gewürztraminer.
The vineyards are located in the range 400-800 m above sea level.
It’s one of the driest valleys in the Alps and it’s well-known for its apples. Val Venosta has been expanding as a wine region since 1995. The wine production is more based on the red varieties (Pinot Noir, Schiava) than on white (Riesling, Pinot Blanc).
The vineyards are quite high in altitude being at 500-800 m above sea level.
Focus on 2019 vintage
As I’ve already told you on Instagram Stories, 2019 has been a very good vintage for wine from Alto Adige.
Each winemaker, every year, has to find the right interpretation of the vintage. The weather conditions could be both perfect and hard, so the work of the winemaker can be more or less easy.
What made the 2019 vintage so good?
The winter was warmer than the last years with not so much snow (except in February). Also the spring was warmer until May, a month which saw low temperatures. This caused a delay in flowering and therefore in ripening.
If the first part of summer was initially hot and dry, then cold and rainy, the second part improved well and slowly until the harvest. There was a two weeks delay in the harvest compared to 2018.
The result is white wines with crisp acidity and very defined aromas. Red wines with finesse and elegance complete the overview.
What’s your favourite wine from Alto Adige?
I believe that you can find a wine from Alto Adige for every moment. From the aperitif with Pinot Blanc to dessert with a sweet Gewürztraminer, or from a business lunch with Sauvignon Blanc to a romantic dinner with Pinot Noir.
You just have to take a look at the wineries and try the wines following your tastes.
But as I told you before, Alto Adige is a region to be discovered firsthand. You will fall in love with it!