The Törggelen Season

A South Tyrolean tradition with chestnuts, new wine, nuts, speck and homemade sausages
October 2016
When, in the weeks between September and October in South Tyrol, the grape clusters sweeten, the seeds become more visible, the skins become softer and the stems become harder, then the grapes are finally ripe for the “wimmen”, as grape-picking is known in South Tyrol.
Once the chestnuts and nuts are ripe and the sweet must starts to ferment, or is ready to serve fresh as “Nuier”, new wine, then it is peak season in the “Buschenschänke” or farmhouse taverns of the winegrowing valleys of South Tyrol. These South Tyrolean inns, known in Austria as “Heuriger”, have since the year 1784 had the right – granted by the Emperor Joseph II – to produce and sell their own wine as well as serving speck, homemade sausages and light meals. The season is limited: in former times a sign indicating that wine was available had to be displayed outside the farm or innkeeper’s house. These signs were frequently made from cut trees or bushes, hence the name Buschenschank. Where the wine grows, it is said in South Tyrol, people are genial and curious to learn the about the new vintage. The convivial tasting of the new must and new wine in such inns is called Törggelen, a word derived from the traditional wine press, known in South Tyrol as the “Torggl” from the Latin “torquere”, to press). Törggelen has been an autumn tradition in South Tyrol for centuries. From October to the start of the pre-Christmas period, locals and visitors alike enjoy the fruits of the harvest in South Tyrol.

We wish to present two classic wine farms where törggelen can be sampled: on the one hand they stand for living tradition, while on the other they use modern cellar technology to ensure a longer bottle life for their clean and fruity wines than was possible for their forefathers.

High above Brixen, the old-established Villscheiderhof offers steaming, tasty plates of meat, chestnuts from the Eisack Valley and tangy new wine or sweet must. Together with his family, Florian Hilpold runs both farm and inn: his great passion is winegrowing. Alongside Kerner and a modest amount of Riesling, in recent years he has attracted particular attention across the South Tyrol wine scene with his Sylvaner wines, the most characteristic and important of the Eisack Valley varieties. Florian Hilpold is a perfect example of the new generation of farmer-innkeepers in South Tyrol: open to new winemaking trends, confidently seeking out other winemakers to compare and exchange notes, yet still happily spending time during the autumn törggelen season enjoying the Nuier with his guests.

The Schnalshuber in Algund is an ancient winegrowing farm. The oldest documentary evidence dates back to the year 1318, which states that the Counts of Tyrol received money and two cartloads of wine by way of tithes. With wine, fruit, schnapps and juices produced on the farm, young farmer Christian Pinggera has for some years now been running his farm according to organic principles. Some of the local farmers supply pigs that are made into speck, sausages and hearty roast dishes. The portions are huge: the prices anything but. As a special treat, try Christian’s fruit brandies, particularly the quince. Booking is essential as the premises of the farm, a listed building, are usually full to bursting.

More on Törggelen 
The Vinum Hotel wine bulletin for November:

South Tyrol’s top wines as seen by the leading wine guides
Just how good was the most recent vintage? What trends can be distinguished?
Italy’s most important wine guides appear in the second half of October. South Tyrol has less than 1% of the total Italian vineyard acreage but, in terms of awards, this small wine-producing region has for over 20 years now been receiving excellent reviews. November’s wine bulletin will be presenting award-winning South Tyrolean wines, both old and new.