The autonomous region of Trentino- Alto Adige/Sudtirol is nestled in the Alps in Italy’s far north. The landscape is a contrast of idyllic rolling green pastures against a dramatic backdrop of shard-like mountains. The region shares far more communality with neighbouring Austria having only ‘joined’ Italy after its annexation from Austria following world war one. The Germanic influence is still strong in language, culture, cuisine and viticulture. Sudtirol is the German name for Alto Adige; the names are used interchangeably.
With Italy being home to no less than 300 indigenous grape varietals, it will come as no surprise that many cultivated varieties, such as Teroldego, Lagrien and Schiavia are endemic to the region. The Traminer grape is the namesake of the town of Tramin in Trentino, while the Germanic influence endows the area with Muller Thurgau and Gewurztraminer (Gewurztraminer is a mutation of the Traminer grape).
Pinot Grigio, the most planted white grapevarietal between the two regions accounts for approximately 25% of all plantings. Italy has a reputation for producing cheap insipid Pinot Grigio, however Trentino-Alto Adige has managed to make the variety shine. The combination of high altitude, lower yields and diurnal variation provide structure and concentration of flavour to a wine often lacking in these features.
Due to the alpine nature of the region, many of the vineyards are terraced down steep hillsides. The vines are trained in the pergola system, a viticulture method developed in Trentino(see center cover photo). The pergola system ensures that the vines receive adequate sunlight, protects them from frost damage and allows for easier picking and pruning of the vines.