A Porsche roadtrip to the South Tyrol vineyards
A drive through northern Italy to an area home to exciting, modern wines
Winegrowers in South Tyrol removing leaves from vines
In the majority German-speaking region of South Tyrol you will find great Alpine driving roads, a land of unique culture and vineyards where history and modern winemaking go hand in hand
The ruby red wine in the glass tastes different to what you might expect – natural, light and with a fine acidity. When swirled it leaves even, long legs on the inside of the glass, which is always a good sign. The wine we are drinking is a Vernatsch, from the small Pranzegg vineyard in Italy’s South Tyrol. Behind us are the impressive rock formations that make up the Dolomites mountain chain. In front of us stretches a wide valley floor in which nestles the Alpine town of Bolzano. And in the car park next to us is a vibrant red of the Porsche kind in the form of a 911 that brought us here over magnificent Alpine passes. Martin Gojer and his wife Marion Untersulzner, whose vineyard this is, are sitting at a wooden table set amid the vines. Both are cradling glasses of their produce. Life is good.
People sitting at wooden table, red Porsche 911 in background
One fine red deserves another: combining a Porsche roadtrip with a visit to a South Tyrol’s picturesque Pranzegg vineyard
“Vernatsch is an indigenous wine grape variety, which both challenges us and brings us a lot of joy,” Martin Gojer explains. “As a grape, it has a thin skin and produces relatively little sugar. With a variety like this, you can hide nothing. And that makes it all the more exciting for us.” Martin Gojer took over his family’s vineyard a few years ago. From this grape, he presses a wine which stands out from what is a crowded field of good wines from this region. Spontaneous fermentation, prolonged duration on the yeast, no fining or filtration, minimal quantities of sulphur and a lot of patience. These are the steps whereby grapes become wine here. And a very special wine at that.
Winegrowers from South Tyrol sit on stone step in vineyard
When Martin Gojer took over the family vineyard in 2008 that he runs with his wife, Marion Untersulzner, he converted it to one dedicated to biodynamics
Martin and his wife Marion are part of a new generation of winemakers – a generation that has dedicated itself to biodynamics. This gives their vines time to grow naturally, turning to time-honoured forms of grapevine pruning and the philosophy that nature will “do its thing” if it’s only given the opportunity.
Four people drink wine under a canopy of vines
The vines at the Pranzegg Winery are on average 55 years old. Some vines have even reached the grand old age of 90
Like many entrepreneurs from the Alps, Martin and his wife have travelled widely, learning about exciting methods from elsewhere and have now brought them back home. “It’s important that you don’t get stuck in your own ways –you have to be able to look past the end of your own nose,” says Marion. Martin adds that it was the internet that first gave operations like theirs the opportunity to go their own way, selling their wine to customers all over the world. Their wines are so special and their approach too unusual for some locals, he says.
A wine two wine glasses standing on a wooden table
As well as cultivating the grapes themselves, Martin and Marion also press them in their own wine cellar to make their excellent Tonsur wine
We are a mix of butter and oil – butter is our Alpine side, oil our Mediterranean
Marion Untersulzner | Winemaker, South Tyrol
The lion’s share of their wines, which they must categorise as table wine, is exported no less than 19 countries. The wine is special because the people who make it are also special – unconventional and full of character. “A mix of butter and oil – butter is our Alpine side, oil our Mediterranean,” says Marion, smiling. “We try to draw out the best from both and create something unusual.” One taste leaves you with no doubt that it’s a recipe that works.
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