Mountain Wine from Maso Michei
A magical place
Those travelling from the charming village Ala into the “Valle dei Ronchi” in southern Trentino can view the Maso Michei from afar. The highly elevated, luminous mountain farm estate thrones in an imposing mountainous landscape at the end of the long, steeply rising valley. Upon arrival, even the hasty visitor is captivated by a magical aura that invites one to linger, indeed to stay.
This is how Martin Foradori Hofstätter felt when he serendipitously stumbled upon Maso Michei in the summer of 2017. The farmstead and its 8.5 hectares of vineyard, situated at 823 metres a.s.l., were up for sale. The vintner seized the chance.
An extreme location
The authenticity of the natural surroundings and peacefulness in a remote mountain landscape make the location of this Maso (as a farmstead is called in Trentino) special. Rows of vines cross steep slopes that are surrounded by austere mountain peaks The Ala River babbles in the valley below as it flows toward the eponymous village before it empties into the Adige. Vines grow slowly and grapes ripen late at this viticulturally extreme elevation. Maso Michei had already achieved renown for crisp, fruity and age-worthy white wines and elegant sparkling wines in past years. All of the vineyard parcels face south and are planted with Müller Thurgau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Foradori Hofstätter – Crossing Borders
Acquiring a location in Trentino was more a matter of course than a daring leap for Martin Foradori Hofstätter. After all, his father’s side of the family came from a wine village in Campo Rotaliano north of Trento. After the First World War, the family purchased additional acreage in Alto Adige (which became a part of Italy in 1918): farmsteads on the high Mazon plateau and in Pochi above the village Salurno. These farmsteads became a part of the Josef Hofstätter Estate in Tramin through marriage and have since been managed as a single family wine estate with vineyards on both sides of the Adige River in Alto Adige. With the purchase of Maso Michei, Marin Foradori Hofstätter returns to his ancestral roots in Trentino. The family wine estate now operates seven farmsteads. Each farmstead is unique, yet the various vineyards and their historic buildings seem to belong naturally together.
The Maso Michei enriches the broad spectrum of Weingut J. Hofstätter vineyards with an exceptional mountain location. The vintner can enlarge the production of crisp, fruity white wines as well as sparkling wines, for which Trentino is famed. The philosophy continues: for each grape variety the best site! This expectation also led Martin Foradori Hofstätter far north over the Alps and to the Mosel for Riesling, where he is a partner at VDP Weingut “Dr, Fischer, Hofstätter Weis”. With Maso Michei, he is also now positioned in the south in the Vallagrina area of Trentino, close to the border of Veneto.
German-speaking Bavarians arrived in the yet uninhabited Valle dei Ronchi as forest workers in the middle of the 13th century. The name Ronchi stems from “roncola”, the sickle knife or hand axe that was used to clear the forest. There were several German-speaking communities along the Adige River, as the German village names of today continue to testify. In post-Roman times, Langobards and Bavarian tribes had settled here. Their descendants from the Valle dei Ronchi worked as carpenters in Ala in the 17th and 18th centuries. Precious silk velvet was internationally highly sought and its production brought the city prosperity. The pretty palaces of Ala often attracted illustrious guests such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Empress Maria Theresia and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From the middle of the 19th century until the end of the First World War, the border train station between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy was in Ala.
The name Michei suggests that it was German-speaking Bavarians that built and lived on the farmstead high up in the Valle dei Ronchi.
The lofty position of the Maso Michei offers a magnificent view of the entire Valle dei Ronchi all the way into the Adige Valley and to the 2000 metre-high Monte Baldo behind Lake Garda. Neither industrial plants nor faceless residential buildings perturb the picture – only untouched nature as far as the eye can see.
It is the spirit of this place that invigorates both man and wine. It promises great and pure wines, potential that Martin Foradori Hofstätter would like to explore. An employee from the vicinity looks after the environmentally conscious cultivation of the vines. The team from Tramin supports him during pruning and harvest.
The plan is to expand the vineyard area from the current 8.5 to 10 hectares. The tried-and-trusted varieties will continue to be cultivated: Müller Thurgau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. A sparkling wine with the “Trento DOC” classification will be released on the market in 2021. The Müller Thurgau and Sauvignon from the 2017 vintage will be available next year as “Michei”.
A true mountain wine can be expected: crisp, pure and vigorous!