In the beginning: We do not look back on a long history, we are not a family company. We are one of the newest wineries in Alto Adige, and over 300 families work behind the winery scenes – some of them as a secondary occupation. They work year-round, and each autumn they deliver us their precious, hand-harvested grapes.
In 1960, 26 winegrowers from Colterenzio in Appiano founded their own cooperative in order to gain their independence from the wine merchants of the time. These rebels named the newly-founded cooperative after their homeland, the small hamlet of Schreckbichl, (Colterenzio in Italian). In their constant pursuit of top quality, the Colterenzio winemakers were also pioneers. The initial founder was Luis Raifer, who took over the management of the young cooperative in 1979. When he returned to South Tyrol from a study trip in California, he had big plans in mind. It was in the 1980s, South Tyrol was primarily a red-wine region, and the quality was run-of-the-mill. Raifer, a winegrower himself, recognised the potential of South Tyrol as an outstanding winegrowing region: The terroir was cheap, sufficient vineyard area was available and the winegrowers were hard-working and skilled. His first step in his vineyard, “Lafóa”, a sunny mountain slope behind the Colterenzio cellar, was to replace the Vernatsch vines with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and, later, Sauvignon Blanc. He also brought in new quality standards: Lower yield for higher-quality grapes and higher-quality wines. It was on this pilot vineyard slope that, with both Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon, the new quality standard measures were introduced.
This quality philosophy extended its reach to all members of the cooperative: new grape varietals were experimented with, and quality groups created. Today, the members and workers at the cellar are committed to working in line with this model throughout the entire winegrowing area, the cellars and for all wines.
The 300 partner winegrowers of the Colterenzio winery are the backbone of the company. They work year-round on their wine hills with their families in order to supply us with top-quality wine grapes in autumn.
Rudi Mayr, Evelyn Hanni, Manfred Klotz and Margareth Marchetti are just four of the 300 winegrowers who are the backbone of our wine cellar. They work year-round on their wine hills with their families in order to supply us with top-quality wine grapes every autumn.
The force of gravity: readily available and infinitely resourceful takes centre stage at our receiving station, built in 2010. The receiving station is the first stop for the healthy, ripe grapes grown by our vintner families, and it is gravity that brings the fruits to the de-stemming and crushing machines on the lower floor. All red grapes are de-stemmed, crushed and transferred to fermentation tanks, while white grapes are partially de-stemmed or crushed without de-stemming and conveyed to the presses below.
Membrane presses ensure that the grapes are processed gently, and that the precious aromas are retained. The wines have an intense, full bouquet and, even after a long period of bottle-ageing, preserve a distinctive bouquet and a clear varietal character. For fermentation and ageing of our wines we use stainless steel vats, concrete barrels or wood barrels depending on their character of the grapes.
When wine reaches the cellaring stage, the skill and expertise of our cellar master Martin Lemayr and his team come into play. They work with dedication and passion to preserve the quality of the wine
We have adopted the same practice in the cellar as our winegrowers use every day in the vineyards: that of working in harmony with nature.
When the cellar was renovated in 2009, we decided to upgrade our cellars not only on an architectural level, but also in terms of renewable energy sources. Our photovoltaic power station now covers 55% of the energy requirements of the cellar, where most of our machinery and computers are used. Through solar panels and heat recovery system, furthermore, we are in a position to meet 70% of our hot water requirements, needed to clean the bottling lines and tanks and heat the offices. Our energy concept allows us to operate sustainably and we are, to a great extent, energy self-sufficient.
Every wine is a work of art: Unique and unmistakeable.
No vintage is like any other, wine is a living being in a state of constant evolution. It is an expression of its terroir, formed by the climate, by the expert hand of the cellar master and by its own ripening process.
To breathe new life into the cellar building, previously somewhat bland and faceless, significant renovations began in the cellar in 2010 with a mindful regard for the countryside and the environment. In order to achieve this, Michaela Wolf und Gerd Bergmeister (Brixen) and their team were appointed, and asked to take their inspiration from the vineyard: The details, in wood and steel, highly visible even from the outside, reflect the close connection between tradition and technology, while the wood of the outer facade is reminiscent of oak barrels. The black panels in sheet metal symbolise the steel vats, the modern side of wine production.
The “Green Theatre” completes the works: a light, dynamic steel structure on which a wide variety of trees and shrubs have been planted. The theatre was conceived as a natural extension of the new building and the hill behind.