May 16, 2022 by Arden Montgomery
Meet the Maker: Weingut Griesbauerhof
“It’s more than a job, it’s our purpose”
Weingut Griesbauerhof is located on the hills of St. Magdalener in Bolzano of Alto Adige. This is one of the oldest and northernmost wine growing regions in Italy that borders Austria with steep slopes that blanket the valley. Wine has accompanied human history and culture in Alto Adige for more than three thousand years and has decisively shaped the development of the province.
Since 1785 the Mumelter family has been cultivating grapes and apples from the same farm where they lie at an altitude of 300 meters above sea level. The ancestral farm has been handed down from generation to generation in the Mumelter family, with Lukas as 7th generation winemaker now at the helm. The barrels remain in the cellar built in the 11th century underneath the house. As a family, they work as a team to run the estate. Georg has passed on his winemaking to Lukas and he now spends his time tending to the apple orchards. In 2019 Michael, the eldest brother, opened the Osteria Freiraum Mumi on the property which is a wine bar he opens from around late April / May until harvest. He makes homemade focaccia and showcases the Griesbauerhof wines for his patrons. Margareth handles tasting visits at the winery, day to day administration, and farming her region’s famous tomatoes.
Griesbauerhof’s philosophy is all about their terroir. They believe in sustainable farming, and minimal intervention in the winery. Their vineyards receive a good amount of sunshine and the sandy clay soil creates complex red wines and extra rich white wines. They are all hand harvested and Pergola trained.
Upon arriving at the estate, we were immediately greeted with lunch cooked by Michael. He used his mothers tomatoes for a fresh pasta sauce and made a simple green salad from the garden. It was the largest plate of pasta I have ever eaten, and yet I didn’t feel weighed down or overly full. We learned quickly that the food from this region is a refreshing blend of Italian, Austrian, and German culture that we have never seen in the US. It is all about light dishes with fresh ingredients; right up my ally. We were lucky that we arrived at the beginning of a beautiful spring, and during the peak of Asparagus season. Every restaurant had an assortment of dishes made from freshly harvested white and green asparagus, paired with local wines.
After touring the vineyards, we visited their apple orchards which is a huge part of their family business as well. Margareth had a table set up with coffee and homemade apple strudel made from the apples we were surrounded by.
Just a half an hour behind the winery up a windy road, you’ll find the most beautiful peaks of the Dolomite Mountains; this mountain range is what separates the Italian border to Austria. We drove up the mountain the next morning and ventured out for a hike, the family’s favorite pastime when they are not making wine. We hiked up to the Rauchhütte Chalet at the top of the mountain for lunch and local wines. These chalet’s are very common in this area on peaks of the mountains, making it a destination for hikers in the spring and summer, and skiers in the winter.
After years of training in Germany, Lukas Mumelter is now a 7th generation winemaker for his family’s estate. He is passionate about carrying on tradition while also implementing innovative ideas.
- Margareth Mumelter, the matriarch of the estate, has a passion for growing tomatoes. She grows 30 types of tomatoes of different sizes and colors every year. Every two years a Tomato Festival is held on the Mumelter farm, where starred chefs create delicious dishes from tomatoes.
- The Mumleter family also has apple orchards they farm, and Margareth makes the most incredible apple strudel with them!
- Both grapes and apples are needed to be harvested at the same time, making it a community effort every year! Friends and family of the Mumelter lend helping hands.
- The family Mumelter has been in Bolzano for hundreds of years. They have traced back generations and cannot find relatives from anywhere else.
Amlière imports the wineries Pinot Grigio and St. Magdalener.
The 2020 Weingut Griesbauerhof Pinot Grigio has notes of green pear, lemon zest, dried apricot, almond skin, and a wet glacial minerality.
The 2019 Weingut Griesbauerhof St. Magdalener Classico has notes of sour black cherry, red currant, strawberry, and almond skin.
For some more information on food/wine pairings with wines like Pinot Grigio, check out Best Wine For Scallops and Best Wine For Spicy Food. If you like Pinot Grigio, you’d probably enjoy trying other wines like this Grüner Veltliner.
Here is an excerpt from our interview with Georg Mumelter, patriarch of the family.
Who are you, what do you make, when did you start your winery, where is it located and why? My Name is Georg Mumelter, I was born on the Griesbauerhof in Bolzano in 1956. After the early death of my father in 1966, I was raised with my two little sisters by my mum, looking after us, the farm and a Hotel. After I finished agriculture school in San Michele/Mezzocorona I started working full time and taking over the farm in 1976. The Griesbauerhof is located at the east End of Bolzano, on the bottom of the St. Magdalener hill and at the south of the Valle d‘ Isarco. In this area, the Romans started to grow vines during the roman empire as early as the year 1610, proven by a script we found hidden in the estate. There was also always wine produced, we have never sold just grapes, but in history it was mostly exported in big vats by train. In the beginning of the 80’s the mind-set started to change in the Alto Adige Region. We started to bottle all our wine, and focus more on quality and get into greater contact with clients and final customers. Quality you gain with passion and experience is why we are continuously trying to improve and make the best possible wines with the fruit of our vineyards.
What is your story? Why did you get into wine? As I said in answer number one, I was literally born into wine. Being a farmer, working close to nature, growing apples, grapes and producing wine is more than just a job, it is my purpose.
Explain your farming/winemaking practices. How many cases of wine do you produce a year? Our farm consists of 7 ha of apple orchards and 4 ha of vineyards. We grow our two autochtone grape varieties Schiava and Lagrein on the classic Pergola system. A growing system in the shape of an arc, with a long history, which suits the best for the two local grapes. The white and the Bordeaux varieties on classic vertical systems. Our vineyards are located in Rencio around our estate (300m above sea level), Bolzano Sud « Spitz » (250m) and for our Pinot Grigio and Weissburgunder in Cornaiano/Appiano (500m). We have yearly production of 35,000 bottles (about 3,000 cases), which is a medium sized winery for our standards in Alto Adige.
What is the difference in quality between large production and small production wineries? Larger wineries produce more wine and they need to sell more wine, that is why they must make a wine which taste suits to more people. I guess larger wineries can reach very good qualities, they are able to operate on a very high standard, working with the best technology and very well educated and experienced people working here. However, it might be hard to make wines with character, wines who are telling stories. A small winery is often also a family’s business, a very exciting and hard work requiring workplace. It is often people’s life so they put all their passion in it. I think they can work out their own style of wine, their own signature. Wines from smaller wineries show mostly more difference between the vintages, why? Because they have to work with the grapes only from their little plots, not having the chance to choose from a lot of different vineyards spread over a bigger area. The bigger machinery is often shared between a group of smaller wineries, which allows them to work on the same standards as the big ones, keeping up with the quality.
What is the quality you like most in a partner? Respect, Loyalty, Trust.
What activity besides making wine, does your family like to do? Eat and drink! We also like to go skiing in winter all together.
What word or phrase do you overuse? Logical.
When and where are you happiest? After harvest when all grapes are in the cellar and fermentation is finished. Being in nature!
What life achievement are you the most proud of? When my Lagrein Riserva 1999 in 2002 received the tre bicchieri of Gambero Rosso. And to be in Rome at the Celebration together with my friends Josephus Mayer – Unterganzner and Andreas Berger – Thurnhof.
What winemakers do you most admire? My Friend Franz Gojer from Glögglhof. He motivated me the most back in the 80‘s to start bottling all our wine and work hard for higher quality!
What motto do you live by? To work my land the best possible way, make the best possible wine, and spend as much time with my family and travel if there is some time in the winter!
Best wine you have ever tasted? Masseto 2001 in a blind tasting! Outstanding!
How do you relax/decompress? Being in nature and hiking.
What do you drink when you are not drinking wine? Water! Beer! I also like Cognac and Whisky but I do not drink it often!
Shop all Weingut Griesbauerhof wines here.