Discover Cantina Tramin Wines: Uncorking the Mountain in South Tyrol


Kate + Vin

Cantina Tramin Winery
sudtirol vineyard icon 1

Along South Tyrol’s wine road awaits a winery as grand as the vine-mantled mountains soaring all around. Discover why the dazzling Cantina Tramin Winery should hold a top spot in your travel plans and your wine rack.

Some sights enthrall immediately. They captivate alone with their beauty. Or even with just a soft whisper of their history. Yet the ones that always grip the most are those that entrance you with their mystery.

Such is the Cantina Tramin Winery. Crowning a vine-drenched hilltop overlooking the tantalizing blue waters of Lake Caldaro, the winery is a South Tyrolean sight to behold all on its own. If its evocative design doesn’t stir wonder inside you, check your pulse.

So eclectic is its exterior, Cantina Tramin can’t help but demand the attention of everyone along the South Tyrolean Wine Road. It certainly demanded ours — capturing our eyes before our hearts.

An Unforgettable First Encounter

We first came across Cantina Tramin (Kellerei Tramin in German) two years ago while breezing from one wine village to the next. The striking structure of the winery amid the rolling foothills was impossible to ignore.

tramin winery entrance

The sight was almost hypnotic. And most definitely a magnet for curious souls like ourselves.

As we had little time between our next scheduled stop, we swung in for a quick look at what appeared to be a modern-day temple built to honor the Ancient Roman god of wine. That quick look turned into a glass of Gewürztraminer recommended to both of us.

After one glass, we surrendered our itinerary to the winery. The sprawling panoramic view unfolding before our eyes from the winery’s terrace was too spectacular to not let its wine meet our lips again and again.

We promised ourselves to make a return visit. And this past year we were fortunate to receive a grand behind-the-scenes tour and tasting as impressive as the building itself.

tramin wines terrace
One glass of wine on the terrace of the Cantina Tramin Winery tends to turn into many.

Cultivating a Culture of Cooperation

Our tour began with Sigrid Pichler, brand ambassador of Cantina Tramin. Her enthusiasm for the winery was contagious. She even commented wine was in her blood as she gave us a sweeping history of Cantina Tramin. We didn’t doubt it.

The winery began in 1898 at the helm of Christian Schrott, a parish priest of the picturesque village of Tramin and member of the Austrian parliament. Schrott helped pioneer a thriving cooperative culture that today includes 300 individual winegrowers cultivating 260 hectares (picture roughly 260 baseball or rugby fields) of vineyards.

These vineyards tumble down steep slopes around the nearby villages of Tramin, Neumarkt, Montan and Auer. Some flourish at heights reaching nearly 3,000 feet.

tramin vineyard roses
Tramin’s vineyards beautify the mountainsides

All of the vines enjoy the benefits of strong temperature swings between day and night. The warmth emanating from Lake Garda to the south and Lake Caldaro to the north gift the grapes sweet-inducing daytime heat relieved by the settling of cool Alpine air in the evenings.

Additionally, the north-south orientation of the mountains allows warm air to flow in from the south during the day. At night, brisk winds from the Roen mountain descend almost 7,000 feet onto the valley, dramatically influencing the nighttime temperatures. This allows the grapes to rest so to speak — ultimately contributing to well-structured and balanced wines with heavenly aromas.

sigrid pichler cantina tramin
Sigrid Pichler walks us through the 120+ year history of Cantina Tramin.

Each winegrower in the cooperative owns less than a hectare on average. Such small-scale vineyards enable Cantina Tramin to produce wines of superior quality thanks to the deep-rooted knowledge the winegrowers possess of their land.

The winery works closely with the growers to optimize each plot sometimes down to even tailoring individual rows. By paying attention to the finest details, Cantina Tramin avoids losing the flavor and acidity cultivated over a season. The result? Wine that is immensely pleasant to drink harvest after harvest.

Excellence from Vine to Bottle

While a strong working relationship with the winegrowers is paramount to the winery’s success, it takes the leadership and vision of a winemaker to bring it all together. Cantina Tramin is fortunate to have one of the best in the world. Wilhelm (Willi), director of winemaking, joined the winery in 1992.

A native of the village of Tramin, he knows the pulse of the area’s vineyards through and through. Willi’s winemaking philosophy has elevated Cantina Tramin’s wines to a class of excellence few can match while also helping Alto Adige / South Tyrol shine as a star producer of high-quality wines.

tramin wines wili sturz winemaker
Cantina Tramin’s director of winemaking, Willi Stürz, shares the story behind creating Italy’s first 100-point white wine.

His unique ability to capture the soul of the land in every bottle of Cantina Tramin wine was recognized in 2004 when the renowned Gambero Rosso, Italy’s most trusted wine guide, awarded him Italian Winemaker of the Year.

The recognition of superior quality has continued. Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate, recently awarded the winery’s Epokale Gewürztraminer 100 points — making it the first white wine in Italy to receive such a rating. To give you an idea of the significance of this accomplishment, consider that Robert Parker has tasted 35,000+ Italian wines as a wine critic over 30 years and has awarded 100 points to only 14 of them!

Ripe with Creativity & Tradition

The winery took on its current enigmatic form in 2010. Werner Tscholl, a prominent architect from South Tyrol’s Vinschgau region, designed two additional wings to the existing winery. Tscholl’s final product is a masterpiece in contrast.

Emulating the contours of vines through glass and steel, Cantina Tramin at once harmonizes with its surroundings while exhibiting its own eye-arresting beauty. The building nicely complements the winery’s winemaking approach by celebrating tradition and creativity.

cantina tramin kellerei tramin
The remarkable architecture of Cantina Tramin makes it a true wonder of the wine world.

This marriage between the future and the past is evident in the winery’s portfolio. Sigrid explained how Cantina Tramin splits its wines into two categories: proprietary blends and single varietals.

The wines making up the proprietary blend comprise two or more varietals. These blends express Willi’s creative orchestration with respect to each vineyard.

The single-varietal wines, on the other hand, reflect the character of the specific grape variety culminating in an ultimate expression of the region. Within both categories, Cantina Tramin offers a Classic Series and a Selections Series of wines.

The Classic Series is where you will find high-quality wines at an excellent value while the Selections Series represents the finest wines Cantina Tramin offers.

The Cellars of Cantina Tramin

When Sigrid concluded her spirited introduction to the winery she handed us off to Günther Facchinelli, Cantina Tramin’s public relations and communication manager. Günther passionately shared how the operational side of the winery contributes to producing intensely aromatic wines — a quality characteristic Cantina Tramin has become well known for in the wine world.

Grapes of Alto Adige
Small-scale plots allow Cantina Tramin to gently harvest its grapes by hand.

Part of the secret lies in treating each grape like a hand-picked precious gem. Upon delivery to the winery, grapes gently ride a conveyor belt to the grape press as opposed to direct handling. This helps preserve their delicate nature ensuring Cantina Tramin can reap the full potential of each grape. After the pressing, the grapes begin vinification.

To show us how Cantina Tramin performs the alchemic magic of transforming grape juice into wine, Günther led us to the lower level of the winery. Here, we walked into a fermentation cellar unlike we had ever seen. The fermentation tanks were hidden behind a wall clad with white tiles, which imparted a cool retro look.

However, the retro vibe was not by design. We found out the tanks were installed when the original building was erected in the 1970s.  To preserve the foundation of the building during the recent renovation, Cantina Tramin kept the tanks in place but had some relined with stainless steel — a job not fit for anyone prone to claustrophobia as they had to be refurbished from within.

cantina tramin steel tanks

Günther informed us these tanks are where Cantina Tramin ferments its Lagrein, Merlot and Pinot Nero grapes. The vinification process is monitored closely by man and machine. Precise measurement and control of the fermenting climate allow the winery to prevent unwanted evaporation thus elevating the aromatic quality of its wines.

We followed Günther into another part of the cellar where rows of stainless steel fermentation tanks stood side-by-side like beaming performers on a stage. These types of tanks were more familiar to our eyes. This is where Cantina Tramin’s award-winning whites continue their journey to juicy elegance.

cantina tramin aging cellars

After touring the fermentation cellars, Günther brought us to a new addition within the winery’s lower level. Behind towering walls of glass fit for a James Bond film set rested dozens of bottled gems from Cantina Tramin aging until some appointed awakening.

Beyond this vintage bottle cellar, we entered a room cast under the soft glow of wine-red ambient lighting. Before us were mighty French oak wine casks followed by stacks of barriques. Günther shared that the new addition is not only for maturing wines, but also a space to host wine-tasting events such as when they introduce new vintages. We certainly understood why. The atmosphere made us want to get lost in a bottle.

cantina tramin wines bottling
Cantina Tramin’s Pinot Grigio zips through the final stages of bottling before labeling and packaging.

Next, Günther led us to a bottling area where machines hummed a steady rhythm as they produced bottle after bottle of Pinot Grigio — Cantina Tramin’s most popular wine for export.

This was our first time watching a wine bottling operation in action. The automated technology behind producing pallets of wine ready to ship was fascinating to watch.

Tasting Cantina Tramin Wines

cantina tramin winery wine tasting

Günther continued our tour by leading us back upstairs to a tasting room offering the same splendid vineyard and mountain views we soaked in on our first visit. The beauty stretching beyond the windows was intoxicating.

But of course, the addition of wine in such a setting makes it even more spectacular. After consuming Cantina Tramin’s history and witnessing the story behind its wines, we were excited to begin the tasting. Here are the highlights.

Cantina Tramin Pinot Grigio – Classic Series. As mentioned above, this is the Pinot Grigio the winery sells the most beyond South Tyrol. We can always find it at our favorite local wine shop. The grapes are sourced from vines planted at elevations ranging from 650 to 1,300+ feet. They thrive in calcareous clay and gravelly soil with long days under the sun followed by brisk nights. Vinification in stainless steel preserves the wine’s fresh tropical fruit flavors and elicits the type of elegant finish we really enjoy during the summer months. On the nose, we caught hints of roses and cloves. It is excellent as a sipping wine or to pair with light salads and seafood. We have bought it priced at $15-$16.

cantina tramin pinot grigio classic wine
The Pinot Grigio from Cantina Tramin is one we can almost always find in wine shops near us.

Cantina Tramin Unterebner Pinot Grigio – Selections Series. Our first thought after sipping this top-end Pinot Grigio from Cantina Tramin is it mirrors summer. Sprinkling it over snow may just be enough to usher in spring after a long winter. The wine gleamed more golden in color than the Classic Series Pinot Grigio. It was also a fuller wine offering a more powerful expression with aromas of pear, vanilla, toast and tobacco due to partial fermentation in oak barrels, which is quite a unique treatment for Pinot Grigio.  The finish lingered beautifully. We were surprised to learn it matures for 14 months and has an aging potential of 7 to 10 years. Günther indicated the wine nicely complements smoked fish and white meats. The price on average is $35.

Cantina Tramin Troy Chardonnay – Selections Series. When we first saw “Troy” on the label we assumed an obscure grape varietal connection to the ancient Greek city. Never assume when in South Tyrol. We found out “Troy” means “path” in Rhaetian, an ancient language spoken in the Alps. The name is a fitting representation of the long journey Cantina Tramin has taken to cultivate an exquisite Chardonnay upon the steep slopes of Tramin.

cantina tramin troy wine
Cantina Tramin’s Troy Chardonnay is an achievement to be celebrated. It is pleasantly powerful with a smooth and enticing finish.

A feat not so easily achieved in mountainous climates. The winery carefully harvests each grape by hand at elevations nearing 2,000 feet. The grapes then ferment in oak barrels resting on the lees for 16 months before maturing another 22 months in stainless steel tanks. The 2015 wears Alpine freshness on its sleeve showing abundant fresh apple and citrus fragrances. We noticed a pleasant burst of mint on the finish. This is definitely a Chardonnay we would give to any lover of the variety even at the price point of $69.

Cantina Tramin Selida Gewürztraminer – Classic Series. “Selida” means “small farmstead”, and reflects Cantina Tramin’s tradition of working with modest-size plot owners.  The small origins of this wine pay off in a big presentation. We found it intensely aromatic with an equally intense yellow color. Its bouquet swirls with roses and mangos. Spicy and sweet in flavor, it would be a fun Alpine wine to sip with sushi. Selida is priced at around $13-$14.

cantina tramin wines gewurtztraminer
The Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer is a delicious white that will definitely be joining our table next Thanksgiving.

Cantina Tramin Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer – Selections Series. The Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer from Cantina Tramin elevated the notion of fragrant wine to a whole new level for us. We noticed it right out of the bottle. Like the Unterebner, it is a more powerful expression in the winery’s portfolio. This wine whisks you through a garden of aromas and flavors from lilies and ginger to mango, peach, golden apple, apricot and melon. Günther noted Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer complements many dishes such as seafood and Asian as well as blue cheese. We thought it would make an excellent companion to smoked turkey. It is another white from Cantina Tramin that ages gracefully — up to 15 years. $40.

Cantina Tramin Epokale Gewürztraminer – Selections Series. When a wine becomes the first white in Italy to score 100 points, you better believe there is a story behind it. The Epokale Gewürztraminer is born from two of the oldest vineyards in Tramin and a whole lot of darkness.

Cantina Tramin Epokale Gewurtztraminer

Epokale ages for 7 years deep in a silver mountain mine near Sterzing at a height of 6,500 feet. The shaft of the mine gives Gewürztraminer a flawless environment to mature in over the course of years as it experiences consistent temperature, humidity and pressure.

The outcome of being trapped in a silver mine for nearly a decade is what can only be described as pure liquid gold.

Cantina Tramin Epokale Gewurtztraminer
After 7 years, the soul of the mountain emerges. Cantina Tramin winemakers carry out the first vintage of Epokale Gewürztraminer. (photo credit: Cantina Tramin)

The 2009 Epokale is the most unique Gewürztraminer we have ever sipped. Exceptionally sweet and smooth all at once. An exceedingly rare wine perfectly balanced to delight all your senses. Getting a bottle is not easy. It is mainly sold to restaurants and in only a few wine shops. Naturally, it comes with a steep price as well at $99+.

Cantina Tramin Maglen Pinot Noir – Selections Series. This high-elevation Pinot Noir stuns on the nose. We delighted in cherries and raspberries. It has a pale ruby color with a bit of a spicy feel in the mouth. The Maglen matures for 12 months in French oak, followed by 6 more months in massive oak casks. We would consider this a crisp, easy-drinking red and could see ourselves enjoying it with various pasta dishes. $40

cantina tramin lagrein wine tasting
Swirling a glass of ruby-red Lagrein from Alto Adige is one of the simple pleasures in life.

Cantina Tramin Urban Lagrein – Selections Series. The top Lagrein from Cantina Tramin should be a part of your next dinner involving red meats lightly flipped on the grill, wild game or if you’re treating yourself to something as simple as pizza. This wine wows with its ruby color, velvety mouthfeel, fruity flavor with hints of cocoa and full-bodied structure. It matures for 12 months in French oak barrels followed by another 6 months in concrete tanks. After bottling, the Urban Lagrein matures in the bottle an additional 6 months. The price on average is $40.

tramin winery gunther facchinelli
Cantina Tramin’s public relations and communications manager, Günther Facchinelli, guided us through a first-class tasting of its wines.

How to Visit Cantina Tramin

To really savor the essence of these stunning wines, add Cantina Tramin to your South Tyrol trip itinerary. As you can see through this post, the winery is remarkable inside and out. Trust us, spending a day along the South Tyrolean Wine Road with a stop at Cantina Tramin is a relaxing break from hiking in the mountains.

Cantina Tramin Wine Shop

The winery sits directly off the wine road just north of the wine village of Tramin. Taking the time to casually stroll the cobblestone streets of Tramin is also a must when adventuring on the wine road.

The Cantina Tramin tasting room opens at 9 am Monday through Saturday. You can also book guided tours at their reception area or in advance by contacting the winery. 

Of course, you do not have to visit South Tyrol to sip the wines of Cantina Tramin. The winery exports much of its portfolio around the world. And with 1.9 million bottles produced each year, there’s a good chance you can locate Cantina Tramin in a wine shop near you.

We would like to give special thanks to Sigrid Pichler, Günther Facchinelli and Willi Stürz for sharing the story and wines of Cantina Tramin. Their extensive time with us is greatly appreciated!

20 thoughts on “Discover Cantina Tramin Wines: Uncorking the Mountain in South Tyrol”

  1. This is such a detailed post. I haven’t been to any winery and distillery till now. But I love to visit it someday. The Cantina Tramin Wines looks really good and I am sure that it tastes amazing. And the location is to die for. Great Read. Loved it completely.

  2. As a wine tour fan, I really enjoyed this article! I have spent some time in South Tyrol and was completely awed by this region. In fact, I have been thinking of moving there! 🙂

    • Thanks Daniel for the comment! Glad to hear you fell in love with South Tyrol on your visit!

  3. Nice reading about this lovely looking place. I would love to visit there as I love wine tours.

  4. Wow this looks absolutely amazing! I love doing wine tours, and even though I have been to Italy several times I have never heard of Cantina Tramin. The grounds look just as awesome as the wine-great post!

  5. I got excited and a bit jealous reading this post. Im a wine drinker and this is just heaven for me

  6. I must say I am not much into my wines but reading your post has surely mad me a bit more knowledgeable and wanting to visit the winery of Cantina Tramin. Apart from the produce the views of the green hills with the vineyard running along is a beautiful sight and a great place to visit whether you love wine or not. They are surely making their mark on the wine lists of the world so thumbs up and all their work and commitment. I would definitely want to stop for a glass but not sure if it did turn into too many as you suggested. Thanks for sharing

  7. This sounds like the perfect experience for wine lovers! I would love to visit Cantina Tramin (and all of Italy) one day. I don’t know what would be my favorite- the yummy wine or that gorgeous view!

  8. Wine tours are exciting. It is nice to know about Cantina Tramin winery. Lucky you to have sipped the first vintage of Gewurztraminer. It is a great day spent I can see from the pictures. Thanks for the detailed information about the day spent there and also how to reach there. When I visit Italy, I will keep this in mind and add a day just for this amazing experience.

  9. Can’t go wrong with a good Gewurztraminer. This looks like a beautiful place to go wine tasting and I really enjoyed the detailed experience and post. Will hope to check this place out one day!

  10. I absolutely love wine tasting tours and visiting wineries, taking amazing pictures like yours in vineyards and learning about wine. Cantina Tramin looks amazing! Also, the sound of visiting wine villages, and a temple dedicated to Ancient Roman god of wine, sounds like a perfect day trip for me. Pinot Grigio is my favourite, good to know you got to try one at Cantina Tramin!

  11. We live just a couple hour drive from Süd Tirol and every time we drive through we mean to stop for wine, but never know where to go. I literally just saved Cantina-Tramin-Wines on Google maps for our adventure. I love that it made you slow down as the structure caught your eye. You can tell they really pride themselves on growing quality wine. I am fascinated by the Cantina Tramin Epokale Gewürztraminer – Selections Series. What a unique wine I would love to take a few bottles back with me to Munich. Thanks for the inspiration and honest review.

  12. This trip sounds like so much fun! I’m planning a visit to northern Italy next spring and have just added this to my itinerary. The vineyards are gorgeous and of course, I can’t wait to taste the wine. Gotta love Italy!

    • So glad to hear we inspired you to make a visit. You’ll have a blast. Spring is a wonderful time to visit!

  13. Man, a glass of wine and that view. I could do with that right now. In fact make that a bottle. This place looks amazing.

  14. You’ve managed to combine two of my favourite things, wine and Italy. I’ve never been to the South Tyrol area though and it looks beautiful. It sounds like a very comprehensive tour that the vineyard put on. Quite often when we visit places like this there’s a long list of possible vineyards to visit and you never which one is going to give you the best experience. So this is really helpful and I will definitely visit Cantina Tramin if we bist the South Tyrol.

    • Thanks for the comment Angela. If you love wine and Italy, you really need to add South Tyrol to your travel plans. We consider it Italy’s best-kept secret. It’s a remarkable land from its natural beauty to its people and culture! Hope you are as dazzled by Cantina Tramin as we were.

  15. As a big wine drinker, I adore everything about this post. We live half the year in Veneto, and was near to Sud Tyrol a year ago. It’s very impressive that they received those points; this is a big deal I’m sure in the wine world. I’m definitely in the mood for a glass of Pinot now, thanks for inspiring me to visit Cantina Tramin the next time we’re back.

    • You’re welcome Lisa! You’ll love the visit and spending time along the South Tyrolean Wine Road.

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