Discover Törggelen: South Tyrol’s Most Treasured Fall Tradition


Kate + Vin

Kate sitting under a chestnut tree during a Törggelen hike
sudtirol vineyard icon 1

Planning to visit South Tyrol in autumn? Discover why Törggelen should be a part of your adventure.

In a land with as many deep-rooted traditions as soaring mountain peaks, it’s no wonder the festive souls of South Tyrol sought to make a beloved autumn custom its very own season. Touted as South Tyrol’s fifth season, Törggelen is a centuries-old tradition celebrating the harvest’s new wine called “Nuier”, “Suser” or “Sauser”. The tradition typically entails a hearty hike in the afternoon followed by an even more hearty feast with roasted chestnuts and wine sampling in the evening.

Rural taverns or farmhouse inns called “Buschenschank” or “Törggelekeller” host the gatherings throughout Valle Isarco (Eisacktal Valley), as well as in many other chestnut-friendly corners of South Tyrol. The Törggelen feast traditionally involves sharing a table in a special room known as a Stuben. Clad in wood from floor to ceiling with a crucifix hung in the corner, these rustic parlors radiate coziness – warmly taking you back centuries to a time when life was simpler – the hours passed slower – and moments of leisure were spent honoring customs and nourishing relationships.

We fell in love with Törggelen after our first experience. If you’re a fan of fall comfort food, delicious wine and good cheer, you will too. But before we show you what the tradition is like, it pays to know a bit about Törggelen’s origins.

⇒ Start planning your Törggelen adventure: Access our travel resources & step-by-step hiking guides

The Beginnings of Törggelen

oldest chesnut tree south tyrol
There are more than 50,000 chestnut trees in South Tyrol. The oldest, shown here, is located near the village of Lajen and is estimated to be between 600 and 800 years old.

Törggelen occurs through much of autumn from late September to the start of the Christmas season in mid-November. According to local lore, this is the time when the Wein-Nörggelen, a mischievous band of dwarves descend from the mountains to steal the wine of the harvest.


The Törggelen tradition is thought to have begun centuries ago in Valle Isarco as a private gathering among neighbors. After a successful grape harvest, the local winemaker would invite nearby friends to a jovial evening sampling the new wine.

history torggelen
The heart of Törggelen is a gesture of gratitude for good food, wine, friends and neighbors.

Now, this is not the kind of wine found on the shelf of your local wine shop. It is a wine from freshly crushed grapes in the early stages of fermentation — cloudy in color and potently sweet in flavor. In fact, the name Törggelen originates from the Latin word for wooden wine press. The Törggelen term “Buschenschank” dates back to the late Middle Ages when a bushy tree branch was placed above farmhouse doorways signaling to guests their kitchen was open.

Törggelen hosts accompanied the new wine with autumn specialties such as fire-roasted chestnuts (called “Keschtn”), as well as pumpkin or barley soup, knödel dumplings, and an assortment of cured sausages known as “Schlachtplatte”, which translates to slaughter plate. After ample amounts of drinking and eating, the evening typically concluded with dancing and belting out traditional folk songs.

Today, the tradition remains much the same, however, many farmhouse inns no longer only cater to a handful of well-known guests, but instead welcome strangers throughout the two-month-long celebration. These humble farmers thrive on the company and regale guests after the feast with tales of life in rural South Tyrol.

⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Almabtrieb in the Alps: Discover a Riot of Revelry in South Tyrol

An Evening of Törggelen at Rielingerhof

torggelen rielingerhof

Our most recent Törggelen adventure took place at Rielingerhof, an organic wine farm located at 2,400+ feet on the Renon (Ritten) high mountain plateau. Renon lies just northeast of Bolzano providing a convenient escape to the highlands for residents and visitors alike. Thanks to a cable car, one can quickly go from standing on the cobblestones of South Tyrol’s capital to soaking in the Dolomites roaring over Renon’s pastureland.

The Rielingerhof farm is a historic treasure of Renon and one of only 15 Buschenschanks selected by the Red Rooster farm association to participate in South Tyrol’s “Authentic Törggelen” initiative. Farmhouse inns brandishing the Red Rooster brand adhere to strict quality standards that “put people in touch with the rural world of South Tyrol” in the most authentic way possible.

As Törggelen-themed celebrations and events have grown in popularity, Red Rooster launched the Authentic Törggelen initiative to ensure autumn revelers can experience Törggelen as it was traditionally celebrated. Participating farmhouse inns are located near the Chestnut Trail (Keschtnweg) in Valle Isarco, as well as near the ancient chestnut groves found along the South Tyrolean Wine Road on up through the Merano Valley basin.

rielingerhof wines
The ruins of Castel Pietra jut above the vineyards of Rielingerhof. The farm is a member of the Independent Winegrowers of South Tyrol and boasts a portfolio of eight highly-regarded wines branded under the name “Rielinger”.

According to Matthias Messner, who operates Rielingerhof with his wife, Evi, and their children, the farm was first mentioned in a document at the beginning of the 13th century. The farm’s mountainside perch sits above the ruins of Castel Pietra (Stein Castle), which was also built in the 13th century, but ultimately abandoned in the 17th century. Through the centuries, the Rielingerhof farm provided food and wine for the nobles of the castle.

As we discovered, Rielingerhof remains true to its hospitable roots. Within minutes of our arrival on the farm, Matthias introduced himself and offered us a glass of wine. While we waited for the rest of the evening’s guests to arrive, we walked through the vineyards rolling down the mountainside. The sweet fragrance of grapes and the mighty backdrop of Schlern infused the farm with an air of romance.

rielingerhof schlern

Upon returning to Rielingerhof’s outdoor tavern area, we gathered with the other guests next to an old stone barn where Matthias began the Authentic Törggelen celebration by lighting the “Keschtn” fire in an outdoor stove. As his children took turns roasting the chestnuts, he made sure we all had fresh pours in our glasses before sharing the history of the farm and the Törggelen tradition.

We made quick friends with a group of festive Germans who were staying overnight at Rielingerhof. They spoke excellent English so we were able to share stories back and forth of our travels in South Tyrol. After devouring the last handful of roasted chestnuts, two of our new friends broke into a cheerful folk song filling the farm with melody.

rielingerhof authentic torggelen
Matthias kicks off Törggelen by roasting chestnuts and telling tales of the tradition.

As the daylight faded away, Matthias led us to the farm’s old Stuben for the feast portion of our Törggelen celebration. With walls adorned in rich-toned wood, vintage family portraits hung throughout and tables aglow under candlelight, Rielingerhof’s farmhouse parlor is a portal to the past.

We were seated with another fun couple from Germany who also happened to speak English. More wine was brought to the table allowing us to refill our glasses before diving into a bevy of homemade South Tyrolean delicacies.

torggelen dinner rielingerhof
Matthias and his wife, Evi, are the third generation of Messner’s to manage the Rielingerhof farm.

First came a savory barley soup dazzled with fresh mountain-born herbs followed by a lush plate of Schlutzkrapfen (ravioli pasta stuffed with spinach and Parmesan). Next, Rielingerhof brought us a plate of knödel (dumplings) paired with potatoes butter-roasted until surely as gold as the crown of Castel Pietra. The final dish was a glorious platter of sausage and ham resting on a heap of sauerkraut.

Every bite of our Törggelen meal meandered between delicious and downright heavenly. The freshness served at our table was a clear testament to Rielingerhof farming or foraging each ingredient.

We wrapped up the evening sipping more Rielingerhof wine while sharing more stories in between even more folk songs. It was the kind of memory etching night only a feast like Törggelen can make happen.

Dining with friends at Törggelen
Törggelen serves up delightful company along with comfy fare. Each celebration offers a chance to revel with others from all walks of life.


An Evening of Törggelen at Winkler hof

winklerhof villanders south tryol

Our very first Törggelen experience began with a hike across South Tyrol’s Villanderer Berg mountain to a famous trio of chapels in Barbian (Barbiano) known as the Dreikirchen. After the hiking outing, we ventured to the Winkler Hof farm in the hamlet of Sauderer (St. Moritz), just below Villanders (Villandro).

Owned by Luise and Anton Fink, the farmstead was first mentioned in 1314. It beams with Alpine character from a sun-steeped slope next to the church of St. Moritz, a mountainside chapel built in 1406.

The Fink family raises everything from dairy cows to pigs to hens and goats, as well as produces wine along with an assortment of berries and vegetables. They also supplement their income by offering guests a “farm stay” in one of three apartments located on the farm.

winklerhof farm stuben
Upon arriving at Winkler Hof we were greeted by the guardian of the farm. This feathered host pointed us to Winkler Hof’s rustic Stuben.

We were seated in a gorgeous farmhouse Stuben wrapped with wood decor as warm as the smiles on our hosts. From the table settings to the touches of Tyrolean folk art gracing the walls, every nook imparted an old-world ambiance that transports you to another time.

Our feast began with a bowl of sweet roasted chestnuts, a spread of speck and a glass of new wine from the farm’s Vernatsch grapes. This was followed by hearty bowls of pumpkin soup and barley soup.

Then came a delicious dish of tris knödel, which is a speck, cheese and spinach dumpling served together atop Schlutzkrapfen. A drizzle of melted butter crowned the heavenly fare. Ending the feast here would have typically been the wise thing to do, but not very South Tyrolean.

torggelen dinner

Then came the main act. An immense platter (the “Schlachtplatte”) of smoked sausages (“Kaminwurzen”), pork and ham atop a bed of sauerkraut soon arrived tipping us from full to stuffed. But when the tray of sweets bounded on our table we somehow mustered the strength to devour every last bite of Krapfen (pastries filled with jam) and chestnut cake.

The rural revelry continued when Mr. Fink joined us at the table in his traditional attire to share a bit of history about Winkler Hof and Törggelen. To our surprise, we discovered the chestnuts we consumed were ‘erotic’ as he put it. Teeming with pheromones that made them the best aphrodisiac this side of the Alps.

Whether he was joking with us or not, we could not tell. The bottomless pitcher of wine throughout the night had done its job.

torggelen mountain pine schnapps toast
Nothing brings people together like a good meal and a shot of Schnapps!

Our evening of Törggelen concluded with a parting gift from Mr. Fink: a shot of mountain pine Schnapps. This mystery arrived in a small glass and wore an amber so deep it was almost hypnotic.

We toasted our friends across the table, Antonia and Diego, before splashing the potion down. It was invigorating; like a bolt of pure Alpine air jolting through you from mouth to feet. Undoubtedly, a proper way to end a grand feast on a mountainside in South Tyrol.

⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: A Feast for Your Senses: The South Tyrolean Bread & Strudel Market

Tips for Törggelen

Kate enjoying wine under the vines durig Törggelen
South Tyrol offers several Törggelen-themed hikes that rouse a merry spirit well before your first sip of wine.

There may be no better time to hike and feast than in autumn. The mountains and valleys are ablaze with gold and burgundy hues and the season’s briskness inspires a hunger only hearty cuisine can satisfy.

While you do not have to endure a lengthy hike to partake in a Törggelen celebration, we cannot recommend enjoying a fall trek enough. If you would like help embarking on a Törggelen adventure, we can put together an amazing itinerary that will forever change how you view autumn.

Those planning their own fall visit to South Tyrol should keep in mind that Törggelen typically requires booking in advance. Partaking in the custom is quite popular so we suggest contacting establishments more than a month out from your trip.


We’d like to give special thanks to IDM Südtirol for introducing us to the Törggelen tradition!

27 thoughts on “Discover Törggelen: South Tyrol’s Most Treasured Fall Tradition”

  1. What a beautiful post on the Törggelen festival. It sounds like my kind of thing to do. The views on the way are breathtaking. I am already in love with it. Those vistas, then wine with amazing food, we are up for that hike. I am sure it will be a memory to cherish forever.

  2. What a feast! I’m always down for wine and all sorts of festivities, especially after a good hike in the mountains. I’m falling in love more and more of South Tyrol – Why do their architecture look so much like it’s from Switzerland or Austria? Some war where territories changed hands and the Italians won? Whatever the history, the location looks amazing!

    • Hi Adonis – Yes South Tyrol was a part of the Austrian empire until the end of WWI when the region was annexed by Italy. The result is a delicious blend of both cultures that you must experience!

  3. The Törggelen harvest festival sounds like my kind of thing to do. I would certainly do a hearty hike if I got great food and wine as a reward. Especially with all of those great view. Good to know it is a two month celebration. Definitely a great autumn trip to plan.

  4. What a nice tradition. It’s kind of like Oktoberfest from what I understand. I’ve heard South Tyrol is beautiful, but your pictures exceed everything I imagined. How enchanting to hike to Dreikirchen on a beautiful day like that, then spend the evening on a farm. That food looks so yummy!

  5. What a lovely tradition — to hang a branch over your door to signal that your kichen is open to guests! And fun folklore myths behind it, as well. A south Tyrol hike sounds wonderful, especially in the fall season. I like to explore cemeteries, but have not heard of one where all the tombstones are facing east — I imagine that’s to face the rising sun. It all sounds so magical.

  6. Dear Lord, you had me from the “hearty feast and wine sampling” start. South Tyrol, where you been all my life? What a gorgeous destination! I was trying to figure out what it reminded me of (the sheer beauty) and then you asked if it looked like a Grimm Bros. fairytale. Yes, that is exactly what it looks like. Thanks for sharing. What an amazing visit.

  7. I’d love to do this. I love hiking in South Tyrol, the scenery and hiking trails are excellent. Plus, this one has wine at the end of it so what can go wrong. I’ve pinned this for the next time we’re in this part of the world.

  8. This looks like its straight out of a fairtytale. I half expect the Cinderella’s drawfs to be wandering around those pubs. Was the hike very difficult? I imagine i wont even feel it with such amazing views. This has gone right to the top of the bucket list. Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for the comment Kristina. The hiking is not at all difficult unless you have to dodge drunk dwarfs tumbling down the mountainside! 😉

  9. This is one of the best part in Austria! We always go there for skiing but have never convinced of going there in Autumn. We though of going thee in summer time for a hiking. But now I think the autumn is actually the better time for hiking as well.

  10. Villanders sounds picture perfect. A thousand year old village with those views? Yes please, it sounds amazing to go hiking there.

  11. I love the sound of farmhouse inns, gathering chestnuts and sampling wine. The hillside churches are fabulous. South Tyrol sounds like a great place to visit

  12. How fascinating to have created a fifth season! You’ve captured such beauty in South Tyrol, from the idyllic rolling hills, soaring mountains, winding trails and people. This is just the kind of place I’d love to visit. I marveled at the woodwork in The farmstead of Winkler Hof (those chairs!), not to mention the interesting foods. You’ve got me dreaming of roasted chestnuts, krapfen, and mountain pine schnapps…

  13. Tyrol is very famous for its scenic beauty but Törggelen on its south is really worth. The views of Church of St. Stephan and Church of St. Michael in Villanders with backdrop of hills are truly stunning. Dreikirchen is also interesting with that mystery of three churches as why they are build together and who built them. Thanks for sharing hidden gem near Tyrol.

  14. This sounds amazing. We’ve been thinking of visiting the Tyrol for ages and have never heard of this Törggelen tradition. A hearty hike, followed by a feast and wine sounds like the absolute perfect escape.

  15. This would be amazing to do, to hike Törggelen in the fall and experience the churches, the farmhouses, the taverns, the views. We were in North Tyrol last year. We will try this next time.

  16. I love hiking but never done this part of Austria. I think I could spend a lot of time this area and the fall I find is the best time to do this. I do a lot of hiking in nearby Switzerland in September and early October before the snow sets in, so to see the changing of the leaves or bare trees whilst hiking in the mountains is an amazing thing to see. I also love a good feast and wine (or strong beer) at the end of a long days hike. 🙂 Love reading this post, taken a few pointers from it and loving your photos.

    • Hi Danik – Thank you for the comment and compliment! Agreed autumn is the best time to hike. Just to clarify, South Tyrol is actually a region of Italy right below Austria. It was once a part of Austria but became a region in Italy after WWI.

  17. South Tyrol in the fall sounds like the perfect escape. My husband loves hiking, and I’m getting better at it. And we both love wine and a good feast. 🙂 So, following the tradition of an afternoon hike to the feast and wine sampling sounds ideal. I love how calm it all seems. Can you tell I need a vacation? 😉

Comments are closed.

Share this

You cannot copy content of this page