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Winery #56: Cantina Terlano (Alto Adige, Italy)

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Our next stop in the 500 Wineries Northeast Italy Tour was Cantina Terlano, located in Terlan, Italy in the northernmost wine region of Alto Adige. As discussed in our previous blog post, the influences of the German and Italian languages can make it interesting in the region as the winery is known as both Cantina Terlano and Kellerei Terlan. We’ll go with the Italian name, Cantina Terlano, for the purposes of this entry since it's the address of their website:-)

Cantina Terlano’s visitor center is co-located with the winery’s production facility and surrounded by expanses of grape vines. Before entering, Brodi and I took a few moments to check on the progress in the vineyards, observing clusters of little baby grapes known as the vine’s fruit set. This is just the beginning of the grape berry formation process, and of course, I had to take a photo. This was also the first time we could truly appreciate the geographical setting of the area. Situated in a small valley among huge mountains, I now understand why textbooks mention that only 15% of the region’s land can be cultivated. Winegrowers take advantage of every possible piece of land by creating terraces, or small ledges dug into the side of mountains, to increase the surface area to plant more grapes.

Our host for our wine experience, Verena, provided us with an overview of the winery and led us through the tasting of nine wines. The wine tasting room consisted of a large bar, a couple separate tables, and a lot of bottles of wine on the shelves! To give space to taste and Brodi room to spread out, we were given our own separate space. Luckily for Brodi, the location was within view of entry into the wineshop, and so he received attention from several patrons.

We learned from Verena that Cantina Terlano, like the first winery we visited in Alto Adige, is a co-operative of 143 grape growers that produce over 1.5 million bottles each year. The company dates back to 1893 when 24 growers banded together to gain independence from the influence and dominance of powerful landowners in the Alto Adige region at the time. Through teamwork, these wineries gained stature and achieved synergy that lasted almost 130 years!

Thanks to our host, we were able to compare wines produced with the same grapes but from different parcels of land with different soil types, which was a really interesting experience. I still need more practice to taste the difference of wines grown on volcanic and chalky soils! We learned a great deal about some of the unique grapes planted in the Alto Adige region such as the two red grapes of Schiava (Skee-ah-vah) and Lagrein (Lah-grey-n). Since the word Schiava in Italian means “female slave,” people in the area often use the German name for the grape, Vernatsch (Ver-nat-ch) that means “native.”

My favorite wine from the wine lineup was, in fact, a wine blend of both the Vernatsch and Lagrein grapes: the 2021 St. Magdalener (also known as 2021 Santa Maddalena in Italian… I’m going with what’s printed on the label). I found the wine to have an interesting array of dark plum, dark cherry, and strawberry aromas with hints of vanilla and chocolate, evidence of oak contact in the production process. The St. Magdalener is a refreshing, well-balanced red wine at a great price point.

Experience Rating: 3 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 1 Paw Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Standing Bar Tasting

Reservations Needed: No

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