Alto Adige: Cooperatives
There are a dozen cooperatives in Alto Adige, and they make up 70% of the region's production. Most of these started a century or so ago after the World War, coming together during economic hardship, but since this time they have continued to grow and strengthen. You might think a cooperative equates to a low standard, bulk like wine, but that is far from the case in Alto Adige. The growers co-own the cooperative, and this means they all strive for higher quality because they are not being paid by bulk but rather by a dividend of the profits.
The cooperatives tend to be based town-by-town, and because of this, each has it's own special focus and highlight particular grape varieties. Northeast from Bolzano where it tends to be cooler, Kerner, Sylvaner, and Müller Thurgau grapes tend to thrive. At Cantina Terlano, in the other direction where there is more sun exposure, it means there is more varieties of red wines.
It is hard to miss this green winery where the structure becomes a sculpture. At Cantina Tramin, the best vineyards make up their single vineyard wines, while the other 80% goes into their "classic" series. They specialize in the Gewürtztraminer grape which makes up over 20% of their production. They produce a variety of styles from various vineyard sites, and they tend to be drier and more textured than, say, Alsace.
Cantina Terlano is one of the oldest cooperatives of farmers, founded in 1893 with 24 farmers. Now the winery has grown to 140 plus members and is recognized worldwide for producing exceptional wines. Their Pinot Grigio is a top seller with its elegance, weight, and structure taking the wine to new levels. The Sylvaner, mostly found in southern Germany, found its way to northern Italy during the Austro-Hungarian rule. This is a dry, crisp white wine with a nice minerality and one of my favorites from the winery.