WINERY LOCATION: Magrè, Alto Adige
VINEYARD LAND: 125 acres (50 ha) owned and 270 acres (110 ha) contracted
FARMING PRACTICES: Sustainable, Organic & Certified Biodynamic
GRAPE VARIETIES: Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Müller Thurgau, Moscato Giallo, Schiava, Lagrein, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon
WINE STYLES: Dry red, dry white
TOTAL WINE PRODUCTION: 1,200,000 bottles (900,000 liters)
OWNER(S): The Lageder Family
WINEMAKER(S): Jo Pfisterer & Paola Tenaglia & Marion Pedron

Driving north from Verona and the Lake Garda area in northeastern Italy, the autostrada enters the Alpine valley of the Adige River. Steep glacially carved walls line the valley, castles and fortresses perched every so often on one side or the other, keeping guard as they have for centuries. Half an hour into this narrow passageway, after passing the city of Trento, the autostrada enters the heart of Trentino–Alto Adige’s winegrowing (and apple-growing) district, with the entire valley floor carpeted with vines and orchards. In the center of this district, a little north of the border between the region’s two provinces—in Austrian-influenced Alto Adige or Südtirol—is the charming little village of Magrè (or Margreid in German). Though at first glance the town looks like a sleepy if well-preserved burg that time forgot, Magrè in fact hides the headquarters of the Alois Lageder winery, one of Alpine Italy’s finest producers. 

The inconspicuousness of the Lageder presence in Magrè is emblematic of the winery’s intent to fit in seamlessly with the local community and the natural environment in this bucolic, pristine setting. Lageder works hard to be a good neighbor and a good steward of the land by practicing biodynamic farming, doing their part to mitigate any harmful effects of their winemaking facilities, and helping their grower-partners and others in the valley to do the same. 

Founded initially as a wine merchant in the city of Bolzano in 1823 by Johann Lageder, the company is closing in on its bicentennial in the wine industry. Over the years, the family began producing their own wine and growing some of their own grapes as well. A major milestone came in 1934, when Johann’s great-grandson Alois purchased the Löwengang wine estate in Magrè, shifting the company’s focus from merchant to producer. Over time, the family acquired other well-positioned vineyards in Alto Adige and entered into purchase agreements with many of the small growers around Magrè. 

The current owner of the estate is Alois Lageder IV, the son of the man who bought the Löwengang estate. Alois IV took control of the company in the mid-1970s, alongside his sister Wendelgard and her husband, enologist Luis von Dellemann. His son Alois Clemens Lageder, representing the sixth generation of family ownership, recently stepped into the management-helm of the winery along side his sister, Helena, who is managing export markets.

Over the past few decades, the family has pushed the winery to high standards of quality and environmental responsibility. They began farming their vineyards according to the principles of biodynamics, seeing this holistic approach to viticulture as the appropriate way to keep their vineyards healthy and protect the environment for the long term.  For example, they reinstituted the traditional strategy of cultivating multiple grape varieties in each vineyard for biological balance. Alto Adige is an area that values the cultivation of a wide assortment of different grape varieties, and Lageder has put great emphasis on matching varieties with the proper terroir in this geologically diverse valley to get the best possible quality. As one of Italy’s foremost proponents of biodynamic agriculture, Lageder has worked with its network of growers to help them convert from industrial viticultural practices to organic and biodynamic methods, with a goal of having 100% conversion within the next 5–10 years. 

Winemaking Lageder has also adopted an array of innovative methods in the winery and cellar that work with rather than against Nature. The winemaking activities and offices are located in a remarkably forward-thinking, low-energy-consumption, zero-carbon-footprint structure that was built in 1996. The unobtrusive facility, built into the side of the valley wall, makes use of solar panels, geothermal heating, natural convection airflow, and gravity-flow wine production. In harmony not only with Nature but also with people, this technically advanced building is also visually attractive and incorporates artwork throughout. 

Under the direction of current owner Alois Lageder, the winery led the transformation of Alto Adige in the 1980s from being known as a region for producing everyday wines to one that can claim world-class wines. The estate was one of the first to make single-vineyard wines in the region. Lageder produces 100,000 cases of wine annually from its 125 acres of owned vineyards, supplemented by another 270 acres belonging to almost a hundred area growers. The wines are divided into categories, including the Classical Grape Varietals, Compositions, and Masterpieces lines. Lageder also produces the Terra Alpina and Riff brands (listed separately). The Classical Grape Varietals wines allow Lageder to explore the diversity of the region, originating primarily from vineyard partners. These wines are pure expressions of what both Italian and international varieties can achieve when treated with the care and nurturing that the Lageder estate value so much. Although envisioned for everyday enjoyment, these high-quality wines elevate that experience. To assemble the Compositions line of wines, the team at Lageder studies the individual components in the vineyard and in the cellar. By combining different components, they create wines with a strong character. The attention to detail is evident in these wines, as is their origin in top-class vineyards.  The Masterpieces are where perfection is in full swing with a consideration of all aspects of winegrowing. These high-end wines are made from the best sites on the family’s own biodynamically cultivated estates. Through a process of meticulous fruit selection, these top-quality wines represent the ultimate distinctive expression of these vineyards.