Alois & Clemens Lageder â€“ Harnessing Earthâ€™s Energy
Bees buzz over the almost harvest-ready Pinot grapes, and a peacock struts nonchalantly among the grapevines. Herbs and flowers stand in the shade of the grapes, where no human hand will disturb them. Higher up in the terraced vineyards, a sheep chews her cud, content in the knowledge that the grasses it feeds on have never come in contact with anything stronger than sparkling dew and crystal-clear raindrops. The vineyards of Alois Lagederâ€™s wine estate cover 50 hectares that lay spread out like emerald gems across the South Tyrolean communes of Margreid, Kurtatsch, Tramin, and Kaltern. Here, Mother Nature calls on everyone to deliver the best-possible nectar: Insects become day laborers, farmers slip into the role of work animals, while light, moon phases, and the climate double as enologists.
The wine route along the southernmost tip of Italian-speaking South Tyrol is surrounded by steep slopes, where temperatures are searing hot during the day and downright cold at night. â€œThe symbiosis between flora and fauna creates a balance and unites the astral elements of the earth. Our wines fully reflect the resulting biodiversity,â€ says 66-year-old Alois Lageder IV. Stemming from a 200-year-old family of winemakers (the winery was founded in Bolzano, in 1823), he is one of the great innovators in the sector of biodynamic agriculture. â€œSince we started keeping sheep and cows, weâ€™ve noticed that the plants grow more vital â€“ and more balanced,â€ he tells us. Meanwhile 29-year-old Alois Clemens V has also joined the family enterprise. He brings an indepth specialization in enology to the table, and is in charge of marketing and the economic growth of the winery.
Part of the 1.2 million bottles of wine that are produced on the family estate are made strictly according to the agricultural and philosophical teachings of Rudolf Steiner â€“ the Austrian philosopher, pedagogue, and founder of anthroposophy, who laid the foundations for holistic environmental understanding already in the late 19th century.
Art helps us to rise above our everyday experiences and refine our taste.
It is no coincidence that the modern winery in Margreid, constructed in 1995, houses numerous works of art. Artists are regularly invited to draw inspiration from the stories of the region. Often they will reciprocate by leaving an installation, a video, or a sculpture. For instance, the video projection by Italian artist Mario AirÃ² shown in the cellars of LÃ¶wengang Chardonnay and LÃ¶wengang Cabernet â€“ the estateâ€™s two most important wines â€“ which features the life cycle of yeast cells in wine.
A small windmill on the roof plays a melody from Johann Sebastian Bachâ€™s 6th Brandenburg Concerto â€“ fondly dubbed "Lullaby for Casks and Strings" by Lageder. Another intriguing object is the beehive made by German artists Rosemarie Trockel and Carsten HÃ¶ller. Or the three glass cubes filled with soil taken from Lagederâ€™s best terroirs â€“ a tribute to Mother Nature by Christian Philipp MÃ¼ller. â€œThe works of art primarily serve us, my family, to help us rise above our everyday experiences and further refine our taste,â€ Alois IV explains. Indeed, Lageder was the president of the contemporary art museum in Bolzano for ten years. â€œAnd, from a holistic point of view, art is always contemporary, inspiring, pleasing to the eye. Likewise, discussions with artists have always been productive and incredibly important.â€
The labels of the wine bottles are also designed by artistic hands, although they have to be okayed by Veronika, Alois Lagederâ€™s wife, before going to the printer.
We strive to generate resonance, to create mineral sensuality.
The winery produces 35 wines made from the most important South Tyrolean grape varieties: Chardonnay vines, which grow on the rocky slopes of Margreid; Lagreiner vines, which thrive on the sandy porphyry terroir of the Bolzano basin. Other vintages are Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, GewÃ¼rztraminer, and Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape variety used for the most decorated wine of the estate: Cor RÃ¶migberg.
â€œBut weâ€™re not really interested in awards; for years, we didnâ€™t even give our bottles to the wine guides or have reviews made,â€ Alois Clemens tells us. â€œOur wines are an experience that should invite you to explore further. We strive to generate resonance, to create mineral precision.â€ Seventy percent of their production is shipped abroad, while the rest is sold in Italy. Out of strategic and ethical considerations, the wines are only available in restaurants and wine shops.
These economic decisions also affect the ninety winemakers who cede their grapes to Lageder. â€œThis is an old South Tyrolean tradition, a sale based on honor,â€ Alois Clemens explains. â€œThe wine-grower partners leave the grapes with us, but the price is only determined the year after. A profound, time-honored trust exists among us.â€ And just like in bygone days, once the price has been settled, payday takes place four times a year on the commemoration days of St. Martin, MariÃ¤ EmpfÃ¤ngnis, St. George, and St. Jacob.
It is the firm belief that tradition is also beneficial to the overall balance of the wine â€“ just as all the measures at Lageder help ensure that the grapevines flourish and grow in even greater harmony. â€œIt is our duty to protect nature,â€ Alois Lageder IV says. â€œAn entire galaxy exists in every simple vine.â€
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