History and tradition
Wine is an ancient drink that has been consumed by mankind for both enjoyment and its health benefits for millennia. It has been produced in the villages along today’s Wine Road since prehistoric times. In the Upper Etsch Valley, i.e. in the parishes of Kaltern and Eppan, and above all in the area around St. Pauls in Eppan, countless archaeological finds and other evidence bear witness to the early cultivation of vines for winemaking.
The Raeti – our forefathers – conserved the precious commodity in casks. However it was the Romans who first left detailed expert texts about wine making. During the migration period, wine making fell into decline as a consequence of wars and destruction.
During the High Middle Ages, Bavarian monasteries vied for ownership of vineyards in the Upper Etsch. Thanks to the extremely favourable climatic conditions and the excellent soil, wine was produced here for the purposes of celebrating mass – and probably for other reasons too!
Since the Middle Ages wine has been the bedrock of prosperity in our region.
Larger, more commercial wine cultivation primarily began here in the mid-16th century. A visible sign of this new wealth is the huge amount of building activity in what is known as the "Upper Etsch Style". Under the influence of the Italian Renaissance, many medieval tower houses and formerly small, Gothic residential buildings were converted, extended or rebuilt into stately wineries with architectural forms that are both typical of and unique to our region.
St. Pauls in Eppan is one of the oldest recorded parishes in South Tyrol. The mighty church, also known as the “Cathedral in the Countryside” was constructed at the instigation of the numerous noble families, moneyed bourgeoisie and wealthy farmers, not least in order to demonstrate their standing and power in this blessed wine-growing area.
The juice of the vine was a much sought-after source of income – in the form of taxes – for noblemen and the church. Ownership of a vineyard in the Upper Etsch has always been seen as a prestigious and secure investment.
Until the end of the 19th century, the wine was sold by private wine merchants both at home and abroad, making its way to such far-afield places as Moscow and St. Petersburg.
From around 1900 wine growers increasingly began to band together to form cooperatives, which enabled them to take a more direct and better share in the return from their grapes.
< back ...over a hundred years