In a few days, we'll say goodbye to another year. A year in which we once again dedicated ourselves entirely to our "Why": revealing the enormous potential of our vineyards to create value for our collective and for future generations, always in harmony with the nature surrounding us. What fires our creativity is not just our love for our unique terroir but also the dedication of our team, working towards our goals with unity and teamwork.
This year, during an internal workshop, we became aware that extraordinary and promising aspects lie not only in unity and equality but rather in the coming together of diverse minds, each with unique skills, perspectives, and sometimes quirks (😉). To build on this lightbulb moment, we'll share how we experienced the year 2023, as our reflections are as diverse as our team.
Beautiful Moments: Our Fondest Memories
For our president Andreas, the first highlight of the year was the tasting of the wines made by our new winemaker, Erwin. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the 2022 vintage, Erwin’s first vintage — after all, it was supposed to be the decisive test for the years to come. A trial that Erwin and his wines passed with flying colors, impressing with elegance, freshness, and individuality.
The impact of our family-like atmosphere is evident in the favorite memories of our administrative manager Fabian and export manager Harald: the joint excursions like the hiking trip to Haniger Schwaige and the support of the Ukrainian refugees are among their highlights.
We particularly enjoyed the moments that we were able to share with others. The Aperitivo Panoramico and the two-day in-house event with 10 Italian journalists and influencers are among the experiences that we look back on with joy, as are the TRES events, where we presented the new 2016 vintage of our top cuvée. Besides the two presentations here in Kurtatsch in front of national and international journalists and restaurateurs from Alto Adige, this year we also presented TRES to Munich's Michelin-starred gastronomy - with fantastic feedback!
Another important moment every year is the general assembly, offering us the chance to update our members on the year's events and future plans. And: the exchange with our members gives us strength and motivation to continue giving 110%.
Achievements & Innovations: What Makes Us Proud
Visits from influential wine journalists and critics, such as James Button and Ines Salpico of Decanter, Eric Guido of Vinous, and Alison Napjus of Wine Spectator, were on the agenda this year, as were various collaborations with renowned brands such as Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Pagani. What fills us all with immense pride is that these requests were proactive. The fact that big names like Alison Napjus reached out independently signals that again we have climbed one step further up the ladder.
We are proud of the fact that our Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon red wines can hold their own at the top of the national and international rankings and are recognized as such through various awards – such as the "Wine Premiere of the Year" award from Gault&Millau for TRES 2015 – and through the results at the fifth edition of Cortaccia Rossa. In a blind tasting with renowned international star wines, the 28 judges from 7 countries consistently ranked the wine from Kurtatsch first, with our Cabernet Sauvignon FREIENFELD 2018 even overtaking Opus One 2018 - a moment that Harald remembers fondly. And we also have a lot to be proud of in Alto Adige: for the second time in a row, we are among the top 6 wineries with the most national awards!
The most important innovation from a technical point of view in 2023 was certainly the photovoltaic system, now covering a significant portion of our energy needs. Another step towards sustainability rounding out our sustainability program.
After the Rain Comes Sunshine: Challenging Moments and Lessons Learned
According to our winemaker Erwin, this year's challenge was clear: the weather and, consequently, the viticulture year. From Esca and flavescence dorée, to peronospora and powdery mildew, precipitation just before harvest, and periods of extreme weather—2023 challenged us in the vineyard. The small-scale structures of our members proved to be our salvation. Through intensive and targeted work, combined with knowledge of each vineyard's peculiarities acquired over generations, we navigated the year more successfully than our Italian colleagues. Now, we can look forward to a fresh and elegant 2023 vintage for white wines and powerful, intense red wines.
Other noteworthy occurrences and lessons learned:
… not everything is predictable and controllable, but many aspects are within our control—keep a cool head!
… top-qualities always sell.
… the world of wine offers numerous possibilities and opportunities, but everything takes time.
In a Nutshell: What We're Grateful for
… the familial work atmosphere and the privilege of being part of a young, motivated team.
… the support and solidarity of our members who identify with our winery and stand by it with optimism, much like a large family.
… the opportunity to work with such unique terroir, whose potential is far from exhausted.
… the numerous (highest) accolades.
Looking Ahead: What We Want More of in 2024 and What We're Excited About
What we want more of:
… further steps toward sustainability: whether introducing lightweight bottles, using the CO2 footprint calculator, or expanding the SQNPI certification.
… celebrating successes together.
… conveying our philosophy with innovative and tailored experiences.
… investing in grape quality in the vineyard and producing wines with even more terroir expression.
We're excited about:
… the fantastic 2022 red wine vintage.
… events like the Night of the Cellars and your visits, where we can tell you in person about us and our wines.
… giving our all once again to increase our international visibility!