Fans of the grape are certainly well catered for around Bolzano, with a Wine Road (Strada del Vino;wweinstrasse.com) enabling visitors to indulge in a happy combination of sightseeing and tastings. The 30km route proper begins at Terlano (Terlan) just north of Bolzano, but you can also join it at Appiano (Eppan) and wend your way through sunny vineyards to Salerno (Salurn) halfway between Bolzano and Trento. This is one of the oldest wine-growing areas of all German-speaking regions – some claim the tradition goes back to the Iron Age – and it’s also one of the smallest in Italy. Certainly, the wine industry was well established in Roman times, with the colonists from down south finding that locally made barrels with metal hoops were much better for transporting wine back to Rome than their clay amphorae. The vines in the region are often strung on wide pergolas, the traditional method of viticulture here, which allows the Ora breeze blowing from Lake Garda to circulate around the grapes, giving a beneficial cooling effect. Others are on hillsides too steep for machinery, so all work still has to be done by hand.
The route’s main halt is CALDARO (Kaltern), home to many sixteenth-century buildings in Uberetsch style, combining northern Gothic and southern Renaissance architectural details. Wines from the vineyards around this small village have won numerous awards; one of the best places to taste them is Punkt (wwein.kaltern.com), a wine bar/information point on the main square. Alternatively, three cellars close to the village centre also offer wine tasting – Kellerei Kaltern, Erste Kellerei Kaltern and Neue Kellerei Kaltern (werste-neue.it). Within walking distance, too, on the Wine Road on the way to Lake Caldaro, the producer Manincor (wmanincor.com) is well worth a visit for its combination of modern architecture and traditional estate buildings, as well as its fine vintages.
Another centre to head for is the village of TERMENO (Tramin), from which the varietal Gewürtztraminer gets its name.