Alto Adige wine region

Alto Adige
Italy’s northernmost region, the Alto Adige - Südtirol is the Y-shaped river valley at the centre of our satellite picture, hemmed in by the snowcapped Dolomites (part of the Alps).  Being confined to the valley makes it one of Italy’s smallest wine regions, with less than 1% of the national vineyard area.  Quality, by contrast, is high.  Over 98% of the production qualifies as DOC, and this is one of the few areas in Italy where vineyard area is increasing.
 
Until 1918 the region was part of Austria, and the majority of locals still speak German as their first language.  Wine labels, like the place names, are usually in both German and Italian.  Unusually for Italy, the region’s fame rests on its white wines, which make up the majority of the production.  A declining 40% is red wine, mostly light, Beaujolais-style quaffers from the local Schiava (Vernatsch) that are consumed locally or in neighbouring Switzerland and Austria.
 
This is one of the sunniest and dryest parts of Italy, averaging 300 days of sunshine each year.  Most vineyards need to be irrigated; fortunately there is plenty of meltwater flowing down the valleys.  Although summer days can be very hot, the nights at this altitude are always cold, preserving acidity and aromas in the grapes.
 

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