The lighter indigenous red grape of Alto Adige, this fun and approachable variety is very easy going. Schiava is the grape you never knew you loved if you're into fresh and exciting red wines!

What Does Schiava Taste Like?

Schiava, pronounced “Ski-ah-va” or in German Vernatsch “Ver-nat-ch”, is the most planted red grape in Alto Adige. Yet another native grape variety to this region, Schiava is the complement to Lagrein.

Lighter in color and tannin, but not lacking flavor, it’s all about red cherries, violets, and sometimes even candy, like bubblegum! It can also have a savory, more serious side, as many producers are making more age-worthy examples. If you like Pinot Noir or Gamay, you’ll love Schiava.

Because of the smooth tannins, many Schiava wines don’t have an oaked character, so it’s all about that pure fruitiness shining through.

What Foods Work With Schiava?

Fresh in nature and low in tannins, Schiava works well with lighter dishes. Try a beetroot salad with goat cheese, game birds like pheasant or turkey, and even fish, like mackerel.

Schiava (Vernatsch) in the Santa Maddalena hills above Bolzano. Photo: Weingut Pfannenstielhof

Where to Look for Great Schiava

Schiava is happy to grow in most of the southern parts of Alto Adige, and many subregions grow it.

These subregions might not mention Schiava on the label, but they will be a minimum of 85% Schiava:

For fuller-bodied styles, check out the Santa Maddalena subregion.

For spicier examples with white-pepper notes, check out the Meranese subregion.

For soft and supple examples, check out the Lago di Caldaro subregion.

Some helpful tips for finding your Schiava:

  • It might also say “Vernatsch” on the label instead of Schiava.
  • Look for Classico on the label for subregions like Santa Maddalena and Lago di Caldaro for single village examples.
  • “Alte Reben” or old vines on the label can indicate higher quality wine.

Wineries to Check Out for Schiava

Cantina Girlan: With Vernatsch vines between 80-100 years of age, they have a strong focus on terroir and age-worthy examples of this grape.

Rottensteiner: Producing single-vineyard Schiava near Bolzano, they are one of the oldest wineries in Alto Adige.

Rohregger: Specialising in terroir focused wines and making wines from 90-year-old pergola trained Schiava vines.

Alto Adige Schiava Wines