The San Michele Appiano cooperative is one of the cornerstones on which the revitalization of Alto Adige wine has been centered in recent decades.

San Michele Appiano

The San Michele Appiano cooperative is one of the cornerstones on which the revitalization of Alto Adige wine has been centered in recent decades: a group of over 300 families who, under the leadership of Hans Terzer, have contributed to the renewal of viticulture and wine production, and are still firmly in charge of the business today. Rereading its history, we recognize how it has been a continuous flow made up of improvements and new directions, often underlined by the birth of a new label, but always evident in the wines’ constant quality. To do this, an incredible vision was needed, which began in the 1980s and an ability to believe in a territory and in many winegrowers.

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A belief that has brought results since the 90s and successes have never been lacking since. “We began to uproot the vineyards positioned in the wrong places and replace them with more suitable varieties – says Terzer, who has been running the company for more than forty years – then we reduced the yields and it was not easy, imagine the old peasants forced by the newly arrived young man to throw the grapes on the ground… Plus we were constantly experimenting. I believe I was the first, or at least one of the first, to separate pinot bianco from chardonnay and dedicate a wine to the Burgundian grape, just as we tested the first vinifications and aging in barrique. Still today there is not one harvest that does not include a new project in the pipeline.” All this led, for example, to the birth of the Sanct Valentin project in 1986 and from there the winery began to proudly present its wines, and to have the awareness of equal level with any denomination.

Cooperative of the Year

A long and meticulous work that has led the Appiano winery to be named Cooperative of the Year by Gambero Rosso. An award established with the 2021 edition of the publication and which could only be awarded to San Michele Appiano, also in the name of its exemplary role for wine cooperatives around the world. “For us it is a great achievement – continues Terzer – but also a great incentive to move forward. To achieve this we need to set goals and carry them forward with strength and stubbornness. It is very important to compare ourselves with other production companies, taste a lot and see what our colleagues are doing. I have always tasted a lot in my life, and even in the most complicated years I have felt esteem and inspiration in the wines of other producers, to name just a couple I would say Sebastian Stocker among my neighbors and Mario Schiopetto looking a little further. Recently, as another example, I blind-tasted a hundred wines, including the wines of San Michele Appiano. It was very effective and productive.” But Hans Terzer’s last words on wine cooperation are the most significant and make us understand the strength of teamwork, thanks to which come both public and the market recognition: “The members in a winery must understand that the cooperative is their company, not a customer they sell grapes to. In doing so, they feel an active part of the whole production and are proud of the successes achieved. The winegrowers must recognize themselves in every bottle put on the market because their work is inside each wine. Only in this way can cooperatives become great not only in terms of numbers.”

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The wines

To understand the quality of the San Michele Appiano wines it’s enough to just read the few lines contained in the Guida Vini d’Italia 2021: “The level of the last tasting heat is impressive. Our preference goes to the Chardonnay Sanct Valentin ’18: on the nose the fruit perfectly matches the nuances of oak, finding the right completion in the mineral background. A savoury, rich and harmonious sip. We would also like to point out the production of limited edition bottles that are worth seeking out, such as Appius ’15 or the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon The Wine Collection.” Since the first edition of the Guide, the winery has garnered 32 Tre Bicchieri awards. The first came in 1995, for the Sauvignon Sanct Valentin ’94, an extraordinary wine awarded 18 times over the years and a true emblem of the production. Along with other excellent whites such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco and the newly awarded Chardonnay. Without forgetting an exceptional red, the Pinot Noir, and Appius, an exclusive cuvée of four varieties that includes the highest white wine expressions of the territory. Wine that impeccably conveys the winery’s production vision based on reflecting territory, aging capacity, a lot of elegance and a sincere mirror of the vintage. In summary: great wines that will leave their mark.

by Giuseppe Carrus