A summer without wine is like chilling at the beach without wading into the sea: sure, it’s possible to enjoy the sunshine alone, but it’s far better with a refreshing splash.
With the lazy days of summer hard at work, now is the time to leap from your lounger and make epic sip happen by diving into the Alpine wines from Alto Adige (also known as South Tyrol and Südtirol).
Crowning the north of Italy, Alto Adige sits way up on the sunny side of the Alps and is blessed with 3,000 years of winemaking mastery. Its winemaking climate is one of the most treasured in the world. The immense peaks of the Dolomites and Alps protect against the extreme cold while warm Mediterranean winds from Lake Garda help moderate its vineyards — giving its wines a unique character unlike anywhere else.
Although the tongue-teasing names of the region’s three indigenous grapes — Gewürztraminer, Schiava, and Lagrein — may keep you from plunging into each wine, trust us, their expressive personality will make you jump heart first. After a glass or two, they might just become your go-to hits of the summer.
Same Old Sip? Not Even Close
Enjoyed throughout Italy as an aperitivo, Alto Adige’s Gewürztraminer is highly aromatic with a round viscosity and balanced acidity. One sip wakes up all your senses. While gewürz translates to spice, the grape also offers up floral, tropical and even herbal notes making it unlike any other grape.
Get your palate ready for lobster rolls, corn, and other delicious summer fare with this multi-dimensional white. We call it “Gerty” for short. Sure, that probably isn’t kosher in certain wine circles, but we swirl our own way. You should too.
Remember when broken-hearted Miles in the classic wine flick Sideways declared his passionate love for Pinot Noir by ferociously proclaiming, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f—ing Merlot!” Well, Miles listen up. It’s time to finally push aside Pinot for Schiava. After a bottle, you’ll be so full of sip that elusive best seller will practically write itself!
Schiava (also called Vernatsch and Trollinger) is an elegant, chill-worthy red. Ruby in color, Schiava is fruit-forward and low in tannins with an inherently easy-going profile. When the thermometer climbs, put this wine in the cooler for a refreshing summer sipping alternative.
Read + See More Photos: Take a journey to the “Queen of Gewürztraminer” in our post Divinely Alpine: Exploring the Wines of Elena Walch
A weightier counterpoint to Schiava’s ethereal nature is Lagrein: dense with ripe fruit, violet and a little kick of black pepper. This grape is defined by summer, as the sunshine and high regional temperatures (up to 104°f) bring it depth and complexity. When chilly nights call for campfires and cozy blankets, grab a bottle of Alto Adige Lagrein to pair with an intimate evening with friends.
How to Find Alto Adige Wines
Most wine shops will not have a section designated “Alto Adige”, “Südtirol” or “Northern Italy”. Instead, Alto Adige wines will be mixed in with the rest of the Italian wines. All Alto Adige wines will indicate so on the label and many will feature “Südtirol” on the wrap over the cork. The brand speaks to the superior quality of the wine and guarantees its origin. Producers using the logo proudly identify with the tradition and community surrounding Alto Adige wines.
Summer is ideal for exploring unknown and exciting grapes that are an everyday part of a South Tyrolean’s drinking lexicon. Be sure to ask for these varietals at your local wine shop. To learn more about the wines of Alto Adige, visit www.altoadigewines.com.
The Best Sip Happens in South Tyrol
Beyond its wine, Alto Adige’s mountains are a sight to see themselves. Its slopes enchant visitors with a leafy labyrinth of grape arbors flush with brilliant green and ruby clusters of captured sunlight. Each grape bunch is carefully pruned by hand to bestow drops of Alpine sweetness on the lips of wine lovers.
If you’re pining for a European adventure unlike any other, join us this October as we continue exploring Alto Adige wine country. Witnessing the transition from summer’s emerald glory to autumn’s tumbling golden-hued cascade is a feast for the eyes and soul.
October marks the beginning of Törggelen in South Tyrol – an age-old tradition where South Tyroleans would gather in the evening at a farmhouse to celebrate the autumn harvest. The celebration involves drinking new wine, feasting on South Tyrolean specialties such as bread, cheese, roasted chestnuts and speck. There’s also plenty of hearty cheer spread among friends through song until late in the evening. Today, visitors can partake in the Törggelen fun at taverns and guesthouses.
South Tyrol gives walkers, hikers and bikers innumerable vine-drenched arcades to wander under. The breathtaking views, sweet aromas and mountain-born flavors you encounter will never leave you. Why? When you’re back home uncorking a beauty from Alto Adige, the memories you made and the sensations you savored all come rushing back. At least they always do for us.
One vineyard-filled walk you will not want to miss while visiting South Tyrol is along the promenades of Merano. These well-maintained paths ascend easily allowing every age group to enjoy what we consider the best walk in Italy. Sound like we’re full of sip? You’d be right. This post was written while sipping Schiava from Nals Margreid. Discover more about their Alpine gems during our visit while venturing along the South Tyrolean Wine Road.
If you’re a wine lover like us, experiencing South Tyrol belongs at the top of your travel wish list. That’s why we make it easy to get to your sip together with our South Tyrol Travel Resource Library. It’s full of money-saving tips, checklists and more to help you plan the perfect escape to Italy’s best-kept secret.
We love meeting fans of South Tyrol so please get in touch with us if you’re visiting. Sharing a glass of Alto Adige vino or three with new friends is always welcomed. See you on the sunny side of the Alps!