J. HOFSTÄTTER, Termeno-Tramin

Joseph Hofstätter established this winery in 1907, in what was then Austria. Today, the Alto Adige (aka Südtirol) is Italian territory, albeit with a distinctly German accent. Both languages are used, and towns and villages have dual names. The village of Termeno (Tramin in German – an indication that this is an historic home of Gewurztraminer…) lies in the warm southern part of the region, where figs, lemons and olives thrive.

Hofstätter farms 50 hectares, and is unique in that they have vineyards on both the east and west side of the the Adige River, with very distinct terroir. There are 6 separate estates (Vigna), Barthenau being the location of the family home, and location of some remarkable blocks of old vine Pinot Nero.

It was in 1942 that Hofstätter’s nephew Konrad Oberhofer assumed control of the company, and established the practice of isolating the best vineyards into separate lots. He was first in the region to produce single-vineyard designated wines. Oberhofer’s daughter married Paolo Foradori, bringing additional important vineyards and advanced vineyard-management techniques to the estate.

Paolo Foradori & Sieglinde Oberhofer’s son, Martin Foradori Hofstätter has been responsible for this historic family estate since 1992. Martin’s cousin, Elisabetta Foradori is also an esteemed winemaker, with an estate in nearby Trentino. Clearly, this is an important family, with very deep roots in the region.

The modern cellar was completely refurbished in 2013, with conical concrete fermentation vessels replacing the stainless tanks installed in the 1970s. The stunningly beautiful cellar was designed to handle many small lots of wine from the multitude of vineyards that make up the estate. Traditional grape varieties of the Alto Adige are cultivated, with a focus on Gewürztraminer, Pinot Bianco, Lagrein, Schiava and Pinot Nero. French varietals, including Pinot Noir/Nero and Blanc/Bianco were introduced to the region in the 1850s. Gewurztraminer has been grown here since the 18th century (in spite of the urban legend that it originates here, it came to Traminer from the Rhine). Single-vineyard wines are clearly indicated with the name of the ‘Vigna’, differentiating them from the ‘village’ wines coming from multiple vineyards. The village wines are pure, classic expressions of the traditional varietals (primarily from purchased fruit), while the single-vineyard and Reserve bottlings show the great potential of these historic sites. Simply put, these wines will change perceptions, and their international reputation is well-deserved.

Ian D’Agata wrote in Vinous.com, Understanding the wines of Alto Adige (also called Süd Tirol by those more Germanically inclined) is easy: there is no region in Italy that makes better red or whites. Yes, Piedmont and Tuscany make a slew of unforgettable red wines, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Campania are home to many world-class whites, and Abruzzo and Puglia make some of the world’s best and most underrated Rosati (Rosé) wines; but no region in Italy makes more high-quality whites and reds than Alto Adige.” Feb 2020.

Interesting note: 75% of the vineyards in the Alto Adige are managed by co-ops, and 90% of vineyards in Trentino are controlled by two large co-ops.