An the area around Margreid in South Tyrol, there is no need to be afraid of suddenly confronting a young bull in the vineyard in summer. But in autumn, after the harvest, when the local ox has been driven down from the alpine pastures into the lowlands, the animals graze between the vines throughout the winter. The idea behind it is very simple: Alexander Agethle does not need any oxen in his Vinschgauer Hofkäserei Englhorn, he would normally give them to foreign fattening farms and thus leave them to mass meat production far too early.
As it is, the animals can spend the winter in the vineyards, where they can find enough food and not be a burden to anyone. Not only does this lengthen the grazing season, which counteracts the shortage of fodder, the animals also bring diversity to the monoculture vineyard, in which, thanks to the manure, other plants and herbs have been growing since then and more birds and insects have moved in.
In the sixth generation
The bulls, on the other hand, can grow to an impressive 800 kilograms and ultimately produce more meat, which in turn – just like Agethle cheese – is offered in the Vineria and in the “Paradeis” restaurant on the estate. “We want to revive the old tradition of transhumance,” says Alois Clemens Lageder. Hiking grazing: The oxen and with them cows and sheep from other mountain farmers are outdoors all year round, in summer on the alp, in winter in the vineyard
The Alois Lageder winery has been committed to biodynamic agriculture on its 55 hectares of vineyards since 2004. Nobody knows exactly how old the winery is. Some buildings date back to the 13th, maybe even the 11th century. In any case, the farm has grown over the centuries, and the owners have become richer and more aristocratic.
In 1823 Johann Lageder came from the Val Gardena to the area around Bolzano. Today the winery in Margreid is run by the sixth generation of the family. Since 1934, the Löwengang residence has also belonged to it, famous above all for the first South Tyrolean white wine that Alois Lageder brought to the international market in the 1980s, the Löwengang Chardonnay.
Some of the “red” plots, Carmenère, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, are much older and were planted 140 years ago, which makes them the oldest vines and vineyards in the South Tyrolean wine region. You can taste it in the wine, which is shaped by the Dolomites and the porphyry slabs around Bozen.
The Müller Thurgau, which grows in the Isarco Valley at an altitude of 1000 meters, is particularly fresh. The winery operates almost self-sufficiently, the bread is baked in-house, vegetables and fruit come fresh every day from the property, which also includes a palace with magnificent baroque halls where tastings are held and weddings celebrated.