Tramin, Italy is a rare gem where its chill vibe and festive spirit capture your heart all at once. Here are our tips for visiting this timeless village.
It’s easy to visit South Tyrol and give all of your attention to the stony giants crowding the horizons. But strolling the cobbled village streets rivering its mountainsides can do as much to instill a sense of wonder as traversing any remote rocky trail.
Especially those along South Tyrol’s Wine Road. Exploring these idyllic medieval hamlets rooted in the vine-riddled hills is like plugging into charging stations for the soul.
In this post, we uncover the romantic charms of Tramin. You’ll discover how to indulge in the village’s historic sights and jubilant traditions as well as visit the esteemed J. Hofstätter Wine Estate.
Getting to Tramin
Tramin (also known as Termeno) lies in the heart of the South Tyrolean Wine Road (Südtiroler Weinstrasse) just beyond the bright blue shimmer of Lake Caldaro. Whether coming from Bolzano to the north or Trento to the south, you can be in the village in less than 40 minutes.
As you approach, its old-world contours dawn beneath the sandy-hues of the Mendola mountain ridgeline. Soon, Tramin’s towering parish church steeple welcomes you like a signpost noting: “Tranquility this Way ⇒”. Its Gothic character lines are unmistakable amid the lush Mediterranean foothills.
Once you arrive in the village, we recommend parking near the center to set out on foot. A free lot is located off Via Mindelheim, which places you right next to the official Tramin tourist office. It pays to stop in to pick up a map as well as discover any special markets and events taking place that may be of interest during your time in South Tyrol.
Touring the Sun-Graced Treasures of Tramin
Tramin has roots thousands of years deep. Archaeological findings indicate settlements in the area as early as the time of Ötzi the Iceman.
However, Tramin as a village did not come to be until the Middle Ages. This medieval history is inescapable. Narrow alleys, stone archways and windows bedecked in flowers seem to greet you at every turn — making its historic roads enchanting to wander all on their own.
But the village also holds three religious treasures not to miss. These sites are priceless in their historical significance to South Tyrol.
Parish Church of St. Quirikus and Julitta
Not far from the heart of Tramin is the magnificent Parish Church of St. Quirikus and Julitta. Founded in 850 AD, the church transports you to another time with intricate craftsmanship that has long since been discarded in our hurried age.
The addition of its iconic Gothic stone steeple occurred in 1492. At a height of 282 feet, it is the tallest tower of its kind in South Tyrol.
Inside, you can admire Gothic frescoes depicting the martyrdom of the church’s patron saints as well as ornate altarpieces dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Joseph, St. Jacob and St. Sebastion.
The Church of St. Jakob
A bit further up the mountainside on a hilltop called Kastelaz resides another cherished historic haunt of Tramin: the quaint Church of St. Jakob. It possesses some of the most impressive and unique medieval artwork in South Tyrol.
The church’s Romanesque frescoes from the 1200s are remarkably well preserved and among the oldest in Germanic Europe. The vivid depictions are utterly fantastical in form.
Decorating its sacred walls are nightmarish figures of skinwalkers, shapeshifters and various beasts of ancient lore. In addition, biblical characters such as the twelve apostles, Cain and Abel and a large Gothic fresco of fallen Goliath meeting his end at the hands of diminutive David grace the stone. There is simply no other church like it.
Outside the church, be sure to soak in the sweeping views of Tramin and Lake Caldaro. From up here, it’s easy to see why the Ancient Romans also chose this lofty location as a place of worship. According to legend, a temple to the goddess Isis once stood where the church is today.
The St. Valentin Church and Cemetery
On the southern end of Tramin directly off the South Tyrolean Wine Road stands the St. Valentin Church and cemetery. First documented in 1276, this small church requires obtaining keys from the tourist office to enter. However, if you cannot obtain them for whatever reason you can peer through windows to see its interior.
Adorning its walls are colorful frescoes in Venetian style from the late 1300s and early 1400s. Among them are a captivating Passion of the Christ and the retelling of the Legend of St. Ursula, the patron saint of educating young girls. She was sadly murdered with an arrow in 383 AD.
Even if you do not tour the church, walking the St. Valentin cemetery rewards with stunning sights unfurled between stately cypress trees and sun-drenched palms.
If you plan to visit the St. Valentin Church, consider driving to it either before or after you have explored Tramin’s village center. You can reach the church in a matter of minutes by car versus embarking on a somewhat lengthy trek by foot.
Discovering the Alpine Wines of J. Hofstätter
The wine of Tramin has been beloved for centuries. Books of long ago call out the potent qualities of “Traminer” wine. It was said to possess healing powers and spark passions among lovers.
Such veneration was likely referring to what we now call Gewürztraminer. This highly aromatic, spicy-sweet grape varietal was born in Tramin more than a thousand years ago. The name actually means “the spicy one from Tramin”.
By the arrival of the Middle Ages, the mountain wines of Tramin were sought after far beyond the Alps. In fact, they were of such high esteem that in the early 15th-century legendary minnesinger Oswald von Wolkenstein penned a lovesick song about Tramin wines. His lips longed for the flavor while subjected to sipping lesser vintages during his troubadouring travels.
Today, you can find Tramin’s wines sold throughout the world, but there is no better way to discover their mountain-born magic than visiting its wineries. One revered winery not to miss is J. Hofstätter. After embarking on a tasting, you too will be singing praises of the wine just like Sir Oswald.
Pioneers of Alto Adige
Rising from the cobbles of Tramin near the aforementioned Parish Church is the courtly manor of J. Hofstätter wines. Founded in 1907 by Josef Hofstätter, the estate sits on the village edge right below a vast expanse of vineyards that ripple to the summit of Kastelaz hill. Stretch your eyes further up still and you will enjoy the sight of a spruce-speckled Mt. Roen, which watches over all at a height of nearly 7,000 ft.
Now in its fourth generation, Martin Foradori Hofstätter currently oversees 124 acres making the estate one of the largest family-owned wineries in South Tyrol. Twenty-five of this acreage abounds around Tramin with additional vines grown on the slopes across the valley.
According to the winemaker, Markus Heinel, these vineyards sit at elevations varying between 820 and 2790 ft. This allows the J. Hofstätter estate to optimally harness a host of microclimates and soil conditions in its production.
Such diversity paired with innovation and a rare, unwavering vision to meet exacting standards has led to wines of international acclaim year after year. When it comes to producing exquisite wines, Markus made it clear, patience is more than a valued virtue at J. Hofstätter, it is mandatory.
The winery itself consists of six levels including a wine shop, wine bar, restaurant and a cellar that is a must-see. It holds fermentation tanks unlike any we have ever seen. Made of nearly eight-inch thick concrete, these cocoon-looking casks were the first of their kind in South Tyrol.
Besides just being plain fun to look at, they facilitate gentle fermentation and support J. Hofstätter’s environmentally-friendly winemaking process by preserving temperatures. Markus indicated their pioneering fermentation method has since been replicated by other wineries in the region.
An Inspired Portfolio
The J. Hofstätter portfolio comprises 15 whites and 12 reds with a primary focus on five of the traditional local varieties: Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Lagrein, and Vernatsch. The wines fall into one of three lines: Classic, Selection and Single-vineyard.
The Classic wines exhibit the typical varietal character of Alto Adige wines. Selection wines, on the other hand, are produced from carefully selected grapes and include a red blend and a white blend.
Markus noted these wines include the word “Vigna” on the label which certifies the wine originates from grapes ripened in single demarcated vineyards. The J. Hofstätter estate pioneered this classification setting a quality standard for premium Alto Adige wines.
Single-vineyards wines stand apart in the wine world as they represent the ultimate expression of their terroir — the defining characteristics captured from a grape varietal’s natural environment.
Tasting Tramin and Beyond
Our tasting with Markus included sampling five of J. Hofstätter’s most renowned wines.
We began with Pinot Blanc (also known as Pinot Bianco and Weissburgunder) — a star white of Alto Adige. Markus informed us the Pinot Blanc is a mutation of Pinot Noir. It is a true cool-climate grape thriving at elevations up to 2,600 ft.
J. Hofstatter’s Barthenau Vigna S. Michele Pinto Blanc originates from the winery’s Barthenau estate at an elevation of almost 1,500 ft. It was delightfully crisp and rich with delicious notes of apple, pear and almond. An elegant stunner that would do wonders on a hot summer day.
The Pinot Blanc was followed up with the estate’s Joseph Gewürztraminer from their Selection series. Markus shared that this is their textbook Gewürztraminer — showcasing all the classic attributes of the wine: full-bodied with a bright straw yellow color, a powerful aromatic character of rose petals and ginger with a vibrant and long finish.
Next, Markus poured the estate’s Single-vineyard Gewürztraminer: Kolbenhof. This deep golden beauty is made from select grapes grown in the family’s steep Kolbenhof vineyard, which is in the hamlet of Söll overlooking Tramin. It possesses an enthralling fruit intensity and aromas that win your heart before even tipping the glass to your nose. In the mouth, it was uniquely lush with a long elegant finish.
We followed up the Gewürztraminer tasting with the winery’s selection of Pinot Nero (more commonly known as Pinot Noir). The first Pinot sampled was the Riserva Mazon. It hails from the other side of the Adige Valley on a slope known as Mazon. Grown here, the grapes benefit from a beaming evening sun and the cooling effects of the “Ora” winds bestowed from Lake Garda to the south.
The Mazon Riserva is a full-bodied, deep red elegant Pinot Nero. The wine’s extensive aging in oak barrels imparts a wild fruity aroma with a velvety smooth feel that almost massages the mouth.
Our last wine with Markus was another Pinot Nero from the Mazon estate. This one stole the show. The Barthenau Vigna San Urbano is a darky ruby gem whose fruit-driven style with hints of vanilla and chocolate has made the Mazon estate the most celebrated vineyard for Pinot Nero in Italy.
The name of the wine pays homage to a professor who introduced the Pinot Nero variety to Alto Adige in the late 19th century. J. Hofstätter has masterfully continued this gentleman’s vision by producing a Pinot Nero that ranks among the best in the world. It truly personifies the attributes that make wine from Alto Adige so special.
Visiting J. Hofstätter Wine Estate
Besides being a destination to enjoy delicious wines, J. Hofstätter is unique in Tramin in that guests can also discover the age-old art of viticulture. The estate’s Show Vine Garden flourishes with Gewürztraminer vines where you can witness how vintners tend to the vineyard from morning until dark.
In addition, the winery offers vineyard and cellar tours if booked in advance. Both include expert-led tastings that give you an intimate understanding of the special characteristics of J. Hofstätter’s wines.
The wine shop, bar and restaurant open and close at various times. But no matter when you visit Tramin, you should have no problem finding time to make the J. Hofstätter Wine Estate a part of your experience.
Reveling in Tradition
If you can time your visit to Tramin during one of its many annual events, you will be immersed in a thrilling cultural experience. These lively celebrations may even leave you feeling more festive than polishing off a bottle of its wines.
Wine lovers will definitely find revelry swirling about during the annual Tramin Wine Lane. This fall celebration occurs on a Saturday in late October beginning in the early afternoon until midnight.
The festival takes place in the alleys of Tramin allowing you to sample a variety of locally produced wines while nibbling on roasted chestnuts and other seasonal delights. As you wander the alleys, you’ll encounter local groups performing traditional Tyrolean music and dance.
If you have never watched such performances, enjoying them in the old world atmosphere of Tramin is especially fascinating. The spirit of the event is infectious and will no doubt create a lasting fond memory of your time in South Tyrol. For more information on the Tramin Wine Lane, check out the event’s official page.
Every other year during February is another unique event of Tramin known as the Egetmann Parade. This Carnival celebration occurs on Fat Tuesday and attracts thousands of spectators.
The parade has a long history in Tramin with records indicating it occurring as far back as 1591. We have yet to participate in this notorious raucous custom, but have heard it can be loud and brash with a good measure of harmless naughtiness flung from the floats. Certainly a rousing tradition not to be missed if you are in South Tyrol in February.
Besides these events, Tramin regularly hosts a number of fun cultural gatherings from culinary festivals to concerts and more. To see a list of current happenings while planning your visit, scroll through Tramin’s event page.
Where to Stay
Beyond the sights and activities we covered above, Tramin is a biker’s paradise offering pedaling adventures through truly epic Mediterranean scenery crowned with Alpine vistas. With Mt. Roen looming over Tramin, hikers and bikers have plenty of elevation to explore as well.
Such an abundance of South Tyrolean goodness all in one area makes Tramin a great town to stay in. The uber-modern Hotel Traminerhof is conveniently located within walking distance of the village’s heart. Not only does the hotel allow easy access to all of Tramin’s charms, but it also caters to bikers with guided tours and provides all the amenities to immerse yourself in the benefits of Alpine wellness.
If you’re looking for a dash of romance, consider staying along the South Tyrolean Wine Road at a boutique winery. Donà Winery (Weingut Donà in German), is a lovely family-owned estate placing you the in middle of vineyards tumbling beneath one of South Tyrol’s most spectacular castle ruins. The winery’s location is ideal for visiting Tramin and other sights along the Wine Road.