Alto Adige Regions
Alto Adige is small, but powerful, thanks to the influence of the Alps. The seven sub-regions produce a diverse range of distinctive wines.
Alto Adige is a unique wine region in the northernmost part of Italy, bordering Austria and Switzerland. What makes it unique is the proximity of the Alps and the Mediterranean allowing for a wide range of grape varieties that would otherwise be impossible to grow together.
20 different grape varieties are planted within the seven sub-regions and white wines make up 64% of the wine production. Schiava and Lagrein are two major red wine varieties that are native to Alto Adige and rarely found anywhere else.
You can find great wines by understanding more about Alto Adige's seven sub-regions.
Alto Adige Wine Region Facts
- The major grapes of Alto Adige by area planted are Pinot Grigio, Schiava (Vernatsch), Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Lagrein, and Pinot Noir.
- There are around 274 wineries in Alto Adige Valley and about 5000 grape growers.
- Alto Adige has 6 official subregions and Lago di Caldaro, its own DOC, is also situated within the footprint of Alto Adige.
- Bolzano, the capital, is often warmer than Sicily in the summer.
- Vineyards sit as high as 3,900 ft (1200 m) above sea level. That's 25% of the way up Mont Blanc!
Elevation creates a cooler climate which is perfect for ripening aromatic white wines like in Valle Isarco. By Cantina Valle Isarco
Alto Adige Wines by Subregion
Within Alto Adige there are three regions that specialize in white wines and four that focus on red wines. Read on to find your wine style.
Subregions focusing on white wines
White wines from the mountains gain character from the cooling effects of elevation. Look for age-worthy and food friendly Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, fresh and exciting Sylvaner and Kerner, and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc.
Valle Isarco - (German: Eisacktal) Valle Isarco sits in the Tyrolean (aka the Italian) section of the Alps, and focuses on white wine. You're going to find many single variety wines, such as Kerner, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer.
Terlano - (German: Terlaner) The town of Terlano lends its name to the wines made in this area. Explore their still white wines consisting of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and many more.
Val Venosta - (German: Vinschgau) The most Northwestern region produces both red and white wines. Still, expect to find mostly white wines. Keep your eyes peeled for great Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir (to name two).
Lagrein and Schiava (Vernatsch) vineyards at Weingut Untermoserhof climb the south facing hills just outside of Bolzano in Santa Maddalena.
Subregions focusing on red wines
Down in the valley it gets warmer and you’ll find single variety and blended Schiava (Vernatsch) ranging from light, fresh, and easy drinking, to more tannic, age-worthy wines.
Meranese - (German: Meraner) A mountainous region around the town of Merano in the north, exclusively making wines from local Schiava (Vernatsch) grapes.
Santa Maddalena - (German: Sankt Magdalener) Wines from the small village of Maddelena and the area are red blends primarily using Schiava (Vernatsch) grapes.
Colli di Bolzano - (German: Bozner Leiten) Wines from this region use Schiava (Vernatsch) grapes grown around Bolzano and are the only wines allowed to use the name.
Lago di Caldaro is it's own DOC outside of (but still within the area of) Alto Adige. Photo by Peter von Felbert
Lago di Caldaro (German: Kalterersee) - This is a DOC separate from Alto Adige DOC focusing solely on Schiava (Vernatsch). Found within the same area as the Alto Adige DOC, surrounding Lake Caldaro, find out more about the wines from here.