Das italienische Weindepot

Blog: Schreckbichl · 2/2

The sensational innovations in Italy's viticulture provided the impetus a good 20 years ago: the members of the Schreckbichl Winery, under the leadership of its managing director Luis Raifer, decided to rethink and redesign their work. The experiment succeeded and the Cantina Produttori thus became, incidentally, the avant-gardist among Europe's cooperatives. Since then, this work has often been copied, but rarely equaled. On the high plateau of Girlan you can breathe deeply. The air is clear, the vineyards stretch far, and in the background the Mendelzug with the Gantkofel provides a touch of grandeur. So does the thought of history. Two thousand years ago, say archaeologists, Roman legionaries stood here in the near vicinity and looked down on vines and mountains. Usually it was they who taught viticulture to the subjugated barbarians. In the Adige Valley they found a flourishing wine culture that was somewhat ahead of theirs: the Raetians stored and transported the precious beverage in wooden barrels, while the Romans still used jugs and hoses. They adopted the better system. Now the sight of wide fields of vines can also dampen one's spirits. One thinks of mass. In Girlan there is less reason to worry. The Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon at these high altitudes are among the best in the region. They belong to the members of the Schreckbichl Winery. Amazing? In South Tyrol, quality and cooperative have never been as foreign to each other as they have been for a long time in Germany. In times when wine didn't count as much as it does today, some held a certain standard. When the turn for the better began in the seventies, the cellars here were involved from the very beginning.

The winery had two advantages. It had only been founded in 1960, not yet fallen into routine. Its 28 founders were self-confident, independent winemakers who were not indifferent to what happened to their grapes in the winery. Schreckbichl includes wine estates with tradition, such as Schloß Englar in Eppan and the Schwarzhaus estate in the prime Siebeneich site. They did not have to be persuaded for a long time to join forces, especially since there were successful Italian role models. Managing director Luis Raifer recounts: 'We said to ourselves: We have to be able to do that, too.' The reform proceeded - for the time being - on two levels. First, it was a matter of making Vernatsch presentable. The South Tyrolean everyday drink continues to be the basis of the business. Yield limitation, elaborate harvesting with three passes, and individual vinification by site quickly led to the goal. Not every one of the Schreckbichl winemakers submitted to the new and stricter rules as desired. Many of them practiced fruit-growing in addition to wine-growing, which brought quick money. It could happen that one or the other took care first of the apples, then of the grapes. They picked too early or too late, or they picked in the evening, left the grapes at night and brought them only the next morning. The punishment: the grapes were strictly controlled and declassified, that is, paid less'.

The second level of reform: the stars. They planted noble vines such as Sauvignon, Cabernet and Pinot Nero in the best sites and aged them in excellent years in large or small oak barrels to produce top wines. the first-class program with the trademark 'Cornell', always produced in quantities of a few thousand bottles, was intended especially for the upscale gastronomy. In 1988, a second 'star parade' was launched, called 'Praedium Selection'. 'Cornell and Praedium,' says Luis Raifer, 'make our image It's only 10% of our production, but I think that's a good ratio. As a winery, we can only work like a private winemaker up to a certain limit.' Meanwhile, many producers have learned from the Schreckbichlers and created their own top league wines. Apparently it has become a bit quieter around the Girlan makers, but that is deceptive. The successful work in the top segment has had a considerable influence on the quality of the inexpensive classic wines, especially in the last ten years. The situation today is that many wineries in South Tyrol have now succeeded in creating their own stars as well, but this is still not enough for an overall successful work. What counts are the remaining 90% of the production, because they also want to be well done. - Gerardo [TS06/22]

Founding Year1939
OwnerCooperative property
OenologistMartin Lemayr
Annual Production1.600.000
Vineyard Area (Hectare)300
Additional Purchaseno

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