Taking stock of the past ten years I can confidently assert that the exceptional character of our local vineyards and grape varieties is reflected in our wines more than ever. South Tyrol's best-known vines are cultivated in the Hofstätter wine estate. We even enjoy the unique privilege of owning vineyards in the finest sites on both sides of the Adige River in southern South Tyrol. However, it is precisely the work in the vineyards which I find the most challenging: decades of monoculture have exhausted the soils, sapped them of their vigour, the vigour which the grapevine needs to stay healthy and unfold its vitality to the full. And today the vine needs vital force more than ever before to withstand the increasingly extreme weather conditions. The word 'terroir' is often bandied about, as if it referred to an established factor, while in reality it is subject to the very same fluctuations that the far-sighted winegrower is confronted with in his daily work.
He needs to recognise the elementary preconditions necessary for vines to yield superlative, distinctive, unmistakable wines, cultivating, fine-tuning and focusing his methods. This is the only way to enhance the quality of grapes in a vineyard which has always produced excellent fruit. I am striving to attain this without advance knowledge of the extent to which the world-wide ecological challenges are to be surmounted in a small organism such as a vineyard. I am confident that a workable solution will be found!
The Hofstätter estate comprises several extensive vineyards with five historic manor houses located on either side of the Adige Valley. The Hofstätter estate is therefore unique in that it is supplied with grapes grown in the finest south-west and south-east facing vineyards planted on hillsides in the warm and sunny south of South Tyrol. The estate's top wines are named after the wine farmsteads where they are grown: Kolbenhof, Barthenau, Oberer and Unterer Yngramhof, Steinraffler, Oberkerschbaumer-Cereseto Superiore and the leased Crozzol vineyard ('Hof' means farmstead). In total the vineyards comprise 50 hectares, located on hillsides and in steep sites at altitudes varying between 250 and 750 metres above sea level. Hofstätter wines are also made from grapes grown in small plots of land at Tramin, Neumarkt, Pfattern near Auer and Kaltern (Caldaro) where the climate is likewise ideal for winegrowing.
The enviable variety of soils and microclimates means that Hofstätter can grow almost all international grape varieties, each in its ideal terroir, including the demanding Gewürztraminer and the extremely sensitive Pinot Noir vine, which in southern South Tyrol produces world-class results.
The Hofstätter wine estate places prime importance on the cultivation of local South Tyrolean varieties, above all Gewürztraminer, Lagrein and Vernatsch (Schiava), though Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir have been growing here for so long (since 1860) that they have become 'naturalised citizens' and are given equal importance. Small plots of vineyard have been planted with international varieties which make up the estate's various cuvées, including Syrah, Petit Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and the white Viognier. These varieties are little known in South Tyrol and have been tried, tested and adopted with enormous enthusiasm by the Hofstätter team, in the knowledge that the local wine scene is sceptical about departures from the status quo and that the varieties would only produce impressive results in carefully chosen sites.
Martin Foradori is in the enviable position of owning hillside vineyards on both sides of the Adige river and is able to choose from a great diversity of soils and microclimates to provide each of these fine varieties with the ideal conditions in which to thrive and yield superb-quality grapes. Nevertheless the future success of winegrowing in South Tyrol lies in fostering and fine-tuning South Tyrol's long-established varieties.