South Tyrol’s wine co-operatives are the best in the world!

This has been the view of the “Gambero Rosso”, Italy’s most important wine guide, for years and indeed decades now.
In February the South Tyrol wine “locomotives” will be presented as successful and important partners of the VINUM Hotels of South Tyrol with a view behind the scenes of some of the famous wine co-operatives.
The premium wines produced by South Tyrol’s wine co-operatives have long featured on the world’s finest wine lists: from the noble “Enoteca Pinchiorri” in Florence to the “Oriental Hotel” in Bangkok, from the “Stricker” gourmet manor on the island of Sylt to New York’s fashionable “Neta” gourmet temple. Throughout the world, wine lovers can find wines from South Tyrolean co-operatives.

In order to better understand the meteoric ascent of these co-operatives in the last two decades, it is helpful to look back at the beginnings of the wine co-operative movement in the 19th century.

The year 1874 saw the founding of the Agricultural Vocational and Research Institute in San Michele (in the province of Trento, which until 1918 was a part of Tyrol) – just a quarter of a century after the introduction of the first French grape varieties to South Tyrol. The Austrian Ministry of Agriculture granted the institute the greatest possible financial support for winegrowing research.
Edmund Mach, the founder and first director of the institute in San Michele, created the scientific foundation for modern viticulture in Tyrol: under his aegis, the institute’s own vineyards were used to cultivate both the leading native varieties and promising foreign grapes for research purposes. Mach investigated the climatic and soil conditions of Tyrol so as to recommend the ideal combination of variety and location. He also possessed farsightedness in his political and economic judgment: towards the end of the 19th century, he supported impoverished small and very small winegrowers in the establishment of wine co-operatives.

The first ones appeared in Andrian, Terlan and Neumarkt, followed later by all of the major winegrowing communities. Edmund Mach was a visionary who saw this amalgamation as a necessary act of self-help. Common storage and sales, not to mention a rationalisation of the winemaking process itself, allowed the co-operatives to compete on the wine market, meaning that individual wine farmers were no longer required to sell their grapes at the minimum price offered by any dealer.

Strict selection of the grapes in the vineyard and a quality-oriented payment policy allowed South Tyrol’s wine co-operatives, in the second half the 20th century, to garner high praise from the wine guides. Terlan has long been one of the most renowned wine cellars in South Tyrol: through the efforts of legendary winemaker Waschtl Stocker, the white wines of Terlan are now world famous. Stocker’s successors, Hartmann Donà then Rudi Kofler, showed with their “Porphyr” Lagrein and “Montigl” Blauburgunder (Pinot Nero) that, alongside the world-class white wines (the “Grande Cuvée”, “Quarz” Sauvignon, “Vorberg” Weissburgunder [Pinot Bianco]), a number of Terlan’s reds also count as first-class.

In the year 2000, the “Gambero Rosso” wine guide selected the St. Michael/Eppan co-operative with its phenomenal winemaker Hans Terzer as Italy’s best winery: and, four years later, the same guide crowned Willi Stürz (winemaker at the Tramin winery co-operative) as its Winemaker of the Year.

The Vinum Hotels of South Tyrol celebrate and support the province’s outstanding winemakers in their own beautiful wine bars, offering guests such highly-decorated wines as the “Nussbaumer” Gewürztraminer, “Taber” Lagrein, “St. Valentin” Sauvignon, “Sanctissimus” Weissburgunder, “Vigna Ganger” Blauburgunder, “Lafóa” Cabernet, “Brenntal” Merlot and the “Sabiona” Sylvaner…. all the products with which South Tyrolean wine co-operatives have risen to fame in recent decades!
The Vinum Hotel wine story for March

“Save the Vernatsch!” – With these dramatic words, written 20 years ago, the renowned Swiss wine magazine “Vinum” shook the South Tyrolean wine scene from its slumbers, following the rapid shrinking of the growing area dedicated to the Vernatsch (Schiava) grape. The VINUM Hotel wine history for March is a plea on behalf of this light, highly typical South Tyrolean red. The modern Vernatsch of South Tyrol possesses finesse and elegance, and boasts an amazing longevity!