By Adriana Ermter
Beehives, chickens and purple artichoke flowers. Fresh garlic, piglets and clusters of green grapes — all create a smattering of snapshots captured on Instagram in tiny framed squares. They’re picturesque. They’re perfect. They’re life at Alois Lageder Vineyards. And when all combined, they make up a reality that spans across 135 acres of land and is a family legacy steeped in winemaking for almost 200 years.
“Alois Lageder was founded in 1823,” says Helena Lageder, the head of marketing and communication and export manager for Alois Lageder. She and her brother Clemens are the family’s sixth generation winemakers and together they oversee the present and future of the Lageder business. “The winery is lead and managed by the family’s sixth generation and carries on a tradition, which goes back more than two centuries,” she affirms.
Roots of the Lageder tradition can be traced back to Johann Lageder, who started it all as a wine merchant in Bolzano, Italy. Later, and after acquiring a number of vineyards, Johann’s successors began producing their own wine to sell. Then, in 1934, Alois III, the great-grandson of Johann, purchased the Löwengang wine estate in Magrè, in the Southern part of Alto Adige, Italy. With the support of small winegrowers who initially supplied him with grapes, Alois III was able to develop, nurture and grow the first wines under what has since become the world-renowned Alois Lageder label.
“By embracing experimentation and the power of innovation, we have created a place to explore the region’s diverse potential,” explains Helena. She is, of course, referring to the company’s perpetual exploration of the Alto Adige’s variety of climates. How the landscape, comprised of cool and warm air, soil, water and rocks, all play into grape growing and winemaking. “We are connected to nature,” she adds. “It challenges us to adapt to it, to take risks, to persevere and to allow it time to do its work.” Work, which is well grounded in the company’s belief in and use of biodynamics.
“ By embracing experimentation and the power of innovation, we have created a place to explore the region’s diverse potential. ”
Derived from the Greek words “bios” and “dinamikòs,” biodynamics means life and movement. It is also a holistic practice, a philosophy developed at the turn of the 20th century by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Farmers worldwide have since embraced the philosophy, including those who tend the Alois Vineyards and implemented the biodynamics practice in the 1990s.
“The anthroposophical view is that a farm is an enclosed microcosm containing a variety of plants and animals,” says Helena. “A cultural landscape, too, is a closed system involving the soil, plants and nature. Our objective as wine growers is to maintain and develop this complex ecosystem.”
Practically speaking, this means that Alois Lageder does not use chemicals or synthetic products such as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and mineral fertilizers for their plants’ growth and protection. Rather, the company promotes biodiversity by sowing ground-cover plants and planting shrubs and fertilizing the soil with compost. Additionally, the winery has zero carbon production. Instead, they pack cow horns with manure and then bury them underground for the winter. Once the ground thaws and spring arrives, the horns are dug back up, the manure is mixed with water and the solution is sprayed across the land. As for the cows and chickens featured on Instagram, they help fertilize the soil, while keeping weeds at bay. “All these measures lead to improved soil quality and vine fertility,” confi rms Helena. “Our objective has always been to develop and maintain a natural cycle.” Later, once the vines have been harvested and the bottles have been fi lled with each Classical Grape Variety, Composition and Masterpiece wine’s vibrant, fresh and crisp fl avour, they are placed deep within the cellar to age. Through this legacy of tradition paired with the future of innovation, Alois Lageder has mastered both experience and patience to create a unique viticulture.
“These influences are connected to each other and are the expression of the quality and special characteristic of our wines,” adds Helena. “In this sense, we direct all our efforts, in order to reach a balance between all elements as well as a dynamic improvement.”