"Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much!”

The success story of South Tyrolean Winery Cooperatives
In 1893, the first South Tyrolean winery cooperative was founded in Andriano and as early as 1900, the seven cooperatives that had already established themselves, joined together to form the Association of Winery Cooperatives.

Edmund Mach
, the visionary wine pioneer, who tirelessly, vociferously & passionately supported small farmers in founding cooperatives, could unfortunately only experience the initial, small successes of these new wine members. Mach died unexpectedly in 1901, shortly before his 56th birthday. Edmund Mach, the 1874 founding director of the Agricultural College of St. Michele all' Adige is considered an outstanding supporter of the 19th century South Tyrolean cooperative system with extensive knowledge in the fields of soil science, plant nutrition and agricultural testing.

Mach's ability to make the most important findings from scientific research available for agricultural practice led to constant qualitative improvement in viticulture and fruit growing in South Tyrol and Trentino and even diffused throughout Austria. 

Towards the end of the 19th century, many Tyrolean winegrowers were living on the verge of poverty - most of them small farmers or peasants, - were completely and utterly at the mercy of the big, powerful wine merchants. By means of the cooperative union initiated by Mach, even small farmers were slowly able to shift the luck of their livelihoods into their own hands.
Twelve winery cooperatives, 3300 member businesses

Today there are twelve winery cooperatives in South Tyrol with 360 employees and almost 3300 member businesses, cultivating 3332 hectares of vineyards and responsible for almost three quarters of wine production in the province. Vinum Hotels South Tyrol are among the most important promoters and supporters, providing a constant drive for quality from South Tyrolean wine growers.

The cooperatives leave each wine farmer enough freedom to develop their individuality. At the same time, however, they distribute the risk onto many shoulders, bear the burden of innovation for their members, maintain high quality through support and the exchange of ideas, can draw on state-of-the-art equipment and react quickly and professionally to erratic weather conditions - challenges that could not be shouldered by individual farmers. The marketing aspect is equally important and is not just pooled at a cooperative level. For example, in 2007 the winery cooperatives and their association of independent winegrowers and wineries of South Tyrol founded the South Tyrol Wine Consortium, thus creating a centre for wine competences where the two strands for quality assurance and marketing of South Tyrolean wine come together", explains the director of the consortium, Eduard Bernhart.

Gerhard Kofler, master cellarman at Girlan Winery, remembers the road to quality wine production: "One might not always want to hear the word >unions> or >winery co-operators> for historical reasons - but if you understand it to mean that in a cooperative you support, help, motivate and inspire each other, which we see as our mission, then you can be proud of being able to work in a winery cooperative!”
The Vinum Hotels - May Wine Letter:

Deep-rooted, down-to-earth, rebellious, creative - Independent winegrowers of South Tyrol are on the upswing

Twelve South Tyrolean winegrowers joined together in 1999 as the Association of Independent Wine Producers. The FWS sees itself as a representation of interests and a service provider for its members as well as an authentic and versatile ambassador for South Tyrolean wine culture. Today, the Independent Winegrowers of South Tyrol (FWS) represent 100 independent wine producers from the highly diverse growing areas of the region, which extend from Val Venosta and Valle Isarco to the lowlands. "Each terroir has its own character and our winegrowers, who are also individual personalities, give each wine their very own signature!"

The Vinum Hotels South Tyrol May Wine Letter is dedicated to the small, refined and imaginative Independent Winegrowers of South Tyrol!