Privileged by Nature

Alpine fortresses, castles, and aristocratic residences crowning gentle peaks with rugged cliffs in the background capture attention as eyes sweep over the lush, green Adige Valley landscape.

Massive prehistoric glaciers dug a broad gorge in the porphyry massif between the Ortler Alps and the Dolomites and created the Adige River and Lake Caldaro, which is fed by groundwater. Loam formed on the flanks of the gorge, rubble collected at the slope foot, and the valley floor filled with metre high alluvial soil. The geological conditions created thousands of years ago continue to determine the cultural landscape of today. Grape vines grow best on the loose, rocky slopes while fruit orchards thrive on the flat valley floors.

Both Sides of the River Valley

The J. Hofstätter estate owns several farmsteads, including five historic aristocratic “Ansitze”, aristocratic residences typical for South Tyrol. These farmsteads are located on both the east and west sides of the Adige River, which is unique for this region.

The wines carry the names of their respective farmsteads: Kolbenhof, Barthenau with Yngram, Steinraffler, and Oberkerschbaum. The vines root on high plateaus and slopes at altitudes ranging between 250 and 800 metres (820-2625 feet) where they enjoy ideal growing conditions. Vines benefit from good aeration – cool fall winds from the mountains or warm breezes from the south according to the time of day. Whether grapes ripen in the morning or evening sun depends on exposition and which valley side. There could not be more fascinating or diverse microclimates. Soils are equally varied. Depending on site location, soils can be gravelly and sandy with calcareous components or of volcanic origins. The demanding Gewürztraminer variety thrives here as does sensitive Pinot Noir – a rarity at this latitude.

The Gewürztraminer grape variety has a long tradition in Tramin and its demands are fulfilled in the steep site at Kolbenhof in Söll. It enjoys the morning sun on the west side of the Adige River and brisk mountain fall winds provide sufficient coolness in the evening.

The Jesuit monks of Innsbruck recognized the virtues of this vineyard and produced wine from it in the 18th century. They also possessed the historic Pirchschrait vineyard adjacent to Kolbenhof, which is likewise planted with Gewürztraminer. Adjacent to Kolbenhof is an extremely steep, south-facing vineyard called Rechtenthaler Schlossleiten, “Leiten” is the local dialect for a steep slope. This site drops into the deep Höllental gorge and has a very unique microclimate. Grapes ripen quite slowly in the persistent coolness and are handpicked in November. At this point they are beginning to shrivel and are particularly flavourful – perfect for the Rechtenthaler Schlossleiten Gewürztraminer Spätlese.

The gravelly soil of the gentle slope at the foot of Söll Mountain below Kolbenhof is predestined for the local Lagrein variety. The name of the site, Steinraffler, stems from the geological conditions.

“Stein” is stone and “raffler” means collector – river stones transported by a small stream have collected here. The soil and unique microclimate, determined by the warm Ora from Lake Garda and winds from Lake Kaltern-Caldaro, offer best conditions for Lagrein. This indigenous red wine variety has been cultivated in the South Tyrol Unterland since the 13th century. At 250 metres (820 ft.) above sea level and with easily warmed soils, the Steinraffler could not be better suited for this variety.

Mazon and its extraordinary Pinot sites are located opposite Tramin-Termeno on the other side of the valley. These vineyards face toward the evening sun and the Ora wind that travels up the valley into the early evening hours. This keeps demanding Pinot grapes dry and healthy.

Ludwig Barth zu Barthenau, a university professor with a passion for wine, planted Pinot Noir at his Mazon estate at the end of the 19th century. His introduction of the variety in the region proved to be quite successful. J. Hofstätter continues the legacy of this pioneer at his original farmstead vineyards, which stretch to neighbouring Yngram-Höfen. The Pinot Blanc “Vigna S. Michele”, the Pinot Noir “Vigna S. Urbano” and the “Riserva Mazon” all thrive here. In the heart of the vineyard is the “Roccolo”, a parcel with 70-year-old vines that grow on a traditional pergola training system.

Vittorio Foradori, the grandfather of the current vintner, replanted Ludwig Barth von Barthenau’s original Pinot Noir site once again with this aristocratic variety. Thanks to the dedication of Paolo Foradori, Martin’s father, the high plateau above Neumarkt achieved renown. Today it is not only the most famous vineyard in South Tyrol, but the most highly celebrated site for Pinot Noir in all of Italy.

The Oberkerschbaumhof – Cereseto Superiore in Italian – lies between 750 and 800 metres (2460-2625 feet) above sea level. The south-facing slope is predestined for white wine varieties. Grapes ripen here slowly and are harvested late.

These conditions enhance refreshing varietal character with pronounced mineral and fruit aromas. The farmstead is situated high above the valley floor and offers a spectacular view of the craggy peaks and cliffs beyond the Adige and into the Italian-speaking Trentino region. Cereseto Superiore is located on the Gfriller Pass road, which leads to the Cembra Valley and was once an important trade route. The famous artist and theorist Albrecht Dürer travelled this road  on his way to Venice in 1505.

The geographic attributes of a vineyard parcel can be described in words, but are better elucidated with a detailed map. Those who wish can follow the roads depicted on the map to explore the terrain.

The cartographic representation illustrates vineyard exposition to sunshine and wind according to elevation, gradient and slope aspect. Vintners employ their knowledge and intuition for the dictates of nature to choose the most suitable grape variety for each parcel. In this way, wine identity, historic roots, authentic expression of origin, and commitment to the estate are preserved.