Europe’s Most Beautiful Wine Growing Region

It is said that South Tyrol – Alto Adige is Europe’s most beautiful wine growing region and I have to agree. There are beautiful mountain peaks, pine forests, lush green meadows, and steeply terraced vineyards. Valleys are filled with more vineyards and apple orchards guarded over by ancient castles perched on high peaks. This part of Italy will be hard to forget.

Europe's Most Beautiful Wine Growing Region

The area is probably the least Italian region that my husband and I have ever visited on our trips to Italy. It’s an area where you will hear Italians (who were Austrians before WWI) speak German or Landis more often than Italian. Most Americans haven’t discovered this region but it is visited by Europeans wanting to enjoy its simple charms.

For todays adventure, my husband and I joined the two sommeliers from the Hotel Gardena and ten other guests for a wine tasting along the South Tyrolean Wine Road. We have been to wine and champagne tastings at home, in France and Italy but not on such an intimate scale.

We drove down from the Dolomites to the town of Termeno/Tramin that is called the birthplace of the Gewürztraminer grape to visit the famous wine producer, Tramin. You can’t help but notice the ultramodern building as soon as you enter the town. The glass, concrete and steel building is designed to have the color and criss-cross pattern of grapevines.

The Tramin Winery

The winery makes some of the best white wines in Italy and has won many awards including the Best of Italy, Best Winery of the Year, and Best Italian Dessert Wine. Tramin is a 280 member grower’s cooperative winery. This is not uncommon in this area because each grower has such a small amount of land that it was not be economically possible to produce their own wine.

Vineyards As Far As You Can See

We were greeted by winemaker, Willi Sturz who was named Italian Winemaker of the Year in 2004.  He is so genuine in his enthusiasm and passion for the wine that he is creating. He spoke in German and Franz Lageder, the sommelier from the hotel translated. After our initial introduction, Willi lead us out to the back of the winery and explained that they are using the latest technology during each step of the wine making.

From there, we then went into the cellars where he told us that wines were all aged differently. Some of the wine is aged in stainless steel, some in very large casks and some in tradition small casks.

Wine Cellar

Wine Aging in Large Casks

He said they are best known for their Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

We got our exercise by then climbing up to the beautiful glass enclosed tasting room with panoramic views of the vineyards and mountains in the background.

Wine Tasting Table

One of our favorite wines of the tasting was called Stoan, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer. Their entire production of that wine was sold out…I guess that lets you know how good it was.

This was an enjoyable morning and after some of the couples made wine purchases we returned to our vans. We had no idea what still was ahead. Franz just said we were going to go take a look at some of the vineyards before heading back to the hotel. Actually, Willi followed the two vans up into their most prized vineyard where the best of their Gewürztraminer grapes were growing.

Willi Sturz in the Tramin Vineyard

Willi explained how they monitor each vineyard and that these grapes would be left to fully ripen on the vine until they were like raisins. They would not be picked until sometime in November for an intensely aromatic flavor.

One More Month Before Picking

While Willi was explaining the harvesting process, our two sommeliers, Franz and Egon, unpacked a lunch of speck (smoked ham), parmesan cheese, bread and more wine.

Lunch in the Vineyard

Willi Sturz and Franz Lageder

What a delightful surprise. When we had arranged to take part in a wine tasting along the wine road, we had no idea that it would turn out to be so interesting. So I am now giving a toast to Willi Sturz, Franz Lageder, Egon Perathoner and the Hotel Gardena for giving us such a wonderful and memorable experience in their wine growing region.

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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24 Responses to Europe’s Most Beautiful Wine Growing Region

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    If it’s speck, this must be South Tyrol! What a beautiful part of Italy to explore and enjoy and that has to be one of the tastiest looking picnic lunches I’ve ever seen! Thank you, again, for taking us along.

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, Thank you for your comment. It was a wonderful picnic lunch. You are right…speck is so much a part of the South Tyrol cuisine. This part of Italy is just terrific. I am happy you are enjoying the journey.

  2. Laura says:

    Your post is very helpful to me. My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon now and are try to decide where to go. We love to scuba dive so we always pick somewhere like Mexico or Belize to vacation. We also really enjoy wine. This would be something that we have never done before. It seems romantic as well as very fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hello Laura, Thank you for visiting my blog and your nice comment. This area is so beautiful and romantic. I think I would be a wonderful place to spend your honeymoon. So happy that I was helpful to you.

  3. Pingback: Blog Comments | Laura

  4. Allison says:

    Karen – What a fantastic experience. That super modern building must have REALLY stood out amongst the hillside and organic landscape. Love the spread on the back of the truck – looked like perfect weather. I always imagine every Italian winery to be an old stone building or designed to be rustic looking.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Allison, Our day spent at the vineyard was a really great experience. We were told that the winery was concerned about the people that live in that village liking the design but that everyone loves it.

  5. What a wonderful day and wonderful area. Most people think of the Germans when the think of Gewurztraminers. I think they rediscovered the vines in WWII and revived the Tramine district. You’ll just have to stay longer and find out!

  6. Kristy says:

    Karen, this is the kind of day that my husband and I would LOVE. We love going to wineries and doing winery tours and tastings. It’s one of our favorite things to share together. This is fabulous! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to remember this region when we plan our trip…(even if it is years off!).

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristy, We love going to wineries be it at home or in Europe. This was so special…spending time in the vineyard with the winemaker and our great picnic lunch. I know that you and your husband would love this section of Italy.

  7. The world outside the window today is grey and rainy, but you took me to a sunny picnic in Italy… What a wonderful day!

  8. Charles says:

    Oh, those grapes look lovely – so rosy, although as I found out once, wine grapes are generally pretty terrible for eating. I should really visit more vineyards, especially since I live in France! Looks like you had a cracking time!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charles, Thank you for your comment. We did have a cracking good time as you say. I did taste one of the grapes and it wasn’t too bad but that is because they were on the way to being like raisins before they would be picked. You definitely need to get yourself to some of the wonderful vineyards in France.

  9. Monique says:

    I ma happy for you..What a great trip..I did not know of this region..I will be seeing my German friends soon..I’ll ask them..:) Googling Tramin Vineyard now:)

  10. Love it! I will need to add these areas to my experience list. I have yet to visit Italy, maybe that will be the next Sister trip. Your weather looked perfect!

  11. Ann says:

    Stunning…I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this series…

  12. Tandy says:

    I love Gewürztraminer – we have a few local good ones – thanks for the history behind the wine :)

  13. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing Karen. I love these photos, they are so vivid, and it feels like I’m there
    Enjoy your day!

  14. spicegirlfla says:

    Karen, You are the best tour guide! I love how you’ve found all the unique, less traveled, places to visit! What a wonderful day you had. I love how they served lunch from the back of the car! Beautiful, crisp photos as always!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Thank you for the nice compliment. I am happy that you are enjoying our trip to new and different places. We were all delighted with the picnic…it was a surprise.

  15. niasunset says:

    Wonderful experience, wished to taste them too :) Thank you, with my love, nia

  16. cabinet stew says:

    Wow! I have had a a really busy week and I am just catching up on my reading and boy am I glad I am. What a trip! and a picnic! – did you give the winemaker your website so he could check out himself?
    What a fabulous building and view – so amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, Thank you for taking time to comment. Visiting the winery and vineyard was a real treat. When I am home I will write Willi and let him know that I did a post about Tramin.

  17. bellasabroad says:

    What a lovely day, it sounds like you had! It makes me think back to the intimate wine tour we took in April in Tuscany. I loved it so much, I actually considered going back to help with harvest in October! What a blessing to see the full grapes on the vines! We saw them in the new born stage. I wrote about it on my blog.
    And once you have speck, there is no going back. I found an Italian store that sells it, and bought enough for a months (froze it in portions) to stock up.
    Trina

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