Winemaker Rendezvous: Ivan Giovanett from Castelfeder

Today we welcome Ivan Giovanett, winemaker at Castelfeder located in Cortina, Italy in the Alpine region of Alto Adige.
Alpine winemaker Giovanett Italy
Giovanett tends to his vineyards in Alto Adige (also known as Südtirol), located in the Alps of Italy. Courtesy: Castelfeder
Castelfeder History

Ivan Giovanett works in one of the world’s most beautiful spaces, Alpine Italy. The winery was founded in 1970 by Ivan’s grandfather, Alfons Giovanett, an attendee of the renowned wine school in San Michele all’Adige. According to Castelfeder at that time, “The small private winery originally lay in the center of Neumarkt/Egna in the south of Alto Adige and processed mainly red grapes of the Lagrein, Pinot Noir and Schiava varieties.”

In 1989 the founder’s son – Ivan’s father – Günther Giovanett and his wife Alessandra assumed the management of the winery, increasing the vineyard scope and relocating the winery operations to Kurtinig/Cortina in the very south of Alto Adige, where it remains today. Currently Günther and Alessandra’s children, Ines and Ivan have “turned their passion into their work” and have joined the leadership at the winery – Ines in sales and Ivan in winemaking.

Italian winemaking family, Giovanett.
The Giovanett family. Courtesy: Castelfeder
A Conversation with Ivan Giovanett

Ivan answered my questions about the winemaking life in Italy’s Alpine range, specifically in the Alto Adige region, which is also called Südtirol or South Tyrol (more on that in the interview).

Italian Alps, Italian Wine, Travel
The beautiful landscape of Castelfeder Estate in Italy’s Alto Adige. Courtesy: Castelfeder
JB: Your winery is located in Cortina. What is life like there?

IG: Castelfeder Family Estate has a history of more than four generations. Today the winery is located in two different places. The Brain (office, administration, warehouse ) in the historical town of Egna and The Heart of the estate (the winery) moved to the neighboring town Cortina in 1989.

Cortina is a beautiful, very small wine town (only 600 people live there!) located in the most southern part of the Alto Adige region. The town is 360° surrounded by Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio vines and looks like a save island in an ocean of vineyards.

The town is located at the bottom of an impressive 2,500m high mountain chain in the heart of the Alps.

Despite being highly committed to preserving Alto Adige’s deep-rooted tradition, people in Cortina are headed for the future, innovative and successful. There are actually three wineries in town, all well-known as some of Italy’s best Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay producers.

JB: I’m interested in the setting where your vines thrive. Can you tell us a bit about the wildlife, weather and soil there?

IG: Compared to the most wine regions in the world, my vineyards thrive in a four-dimensional setting. This is unique, and influences decisively the character of the wines.

1) The Exposure: We grow vines on both West and East facing slopes.

East-facing slopes get the morning sun very early, an are therefore quite warm sites, perfectly for growing Lagrein, Cabernet or Merlot.

West-facing slopes are a lot cooler, they get sun radiation a few hours later. Temperature difference beween day/night is higher and this makes them ideal for growing cool-climate-loving grapes like Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Bianco.

2) The Soil: Our vines grow on two completely different soil types.

Limestone: The white sedimentary dolomitic rocks have a high lime content as they are formed from old corral reefs and are perfect for growing high-quality white wines.

Porphyr: The red porphyr soil originated from volcanic activities and is compacted by glacier movement – perfect for growing red wine grapes like Lagrein and Schiava.

3) The Climate: Two climate zones crush together in our area.

In the southern part of Alto Adige we have the distinctive influence of the warm, mediterranean climate, while in the north of the region, the mountain chain of the Alps protects our vineyards from cold winds from northern Europe. This allows us to grow a huge number of grape-varieties (13 varietals are cultivated Castelfeder Estate!).

4) The Altitude: This is the most important factor that influences our incomparable wine style.

We grow grapes from 220m  (~722 feet) up to extreme altitudes of 1,000m (~3,281 feet) — warm climate-loving varieties at lower altitudes, cool climate loving varieties at higher altitudes.

Temperature, sun radiation and soil type changes a lot, depending on the altitude level and allows us to produce different styles of wine.

Sloped vineyards, Italy, Alto Adige
The slopes of Castelfeder vineyards. Courtesy: Castelfeder
JB: South Tyrol and Alto Adige — what do these names mean to local people?

IG: They explain our moved history. The region was originally a 100% German-speaking area, part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy up to 1919. After World War I, South Tyrol was annexed by Italy whose leadership tried to convert to an Italian-speaking area during fascism.

Today South Tyrol is the term most commonly used in English for the province, and its usage reflects that it was created from a portion of the southern part of the historic County of Tyrol (Austria).

Alto Adige – literally translated in English into Upper Adige –  is one of the Italian names for the province. The term had been the name of political subdivisions along the Adige River in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, who created the Department of Alto Adige, part of the Napoleonic Kingdom in Italy. It was reused as the Italian name of the current province after its post-World War I creation, and was a symbol of the subsequent forced Italianization of South Tyrol.

Alpine Wine, Italian Wine, Beautiful Vineyards
The architecture of Castelfeder Estate is eye-catching. Courtesy: Castelfeder
JB: Pergola and Guyot trellis systems both have a place on your vineyards. Can you tell us a bit about the transition between these two?

Pergola is the traditional trellis system for our indigenous Lagrein and Schiava grapes. These vigorous varieties need a growing form with a wide canopy to guarantee perfect sugar concentration and grape maturation. The roof-form also protects these sensible grapes from excessive sun radiation and can also be used successfully in very steep slopes. Pergola vines are planted wide, with just 2,500 plants/ha and therefore a higher yield/crop of about 4-5 kg.

At the end of the 80’s the generation of my father, Günther, started planting the new, and more prestigious varieties on the Guyot system. Vines are now planted very narrow with 7,000-9,000 plants/ha, reducing the yield/crop to approximately one bottle of wine. This results in higher density and concentration of aromatic substances in the berries and therefore higher quality wines.

Pergola Vineyards, Mountain Vineyards, High Altitude Wine
The pergola vineyards. Courtesy: Castelfeder
JB: One of your wines is named Niente die Troppo, “Nothing too much” . Is this a meaningful theme in your work?

IG: Our premium white wine – Pinot Bianco TECUM – shows the subtitle “N.D.T. (Niente di troppo – nothing too much).

The aim was to produce a great wine that reflects its terroir and origin without any modern winemaking intervention. Tecum (Latin for together) follows the natural cycle of the vine and the wine itself: after a wild yeast fermentation it awaits the following year on noble lees, where it remains for 15 months. The result is a natural stability over time and a complexity in terms of nose, which is enhanced by a long period of refinement in steel to which a small part that has been refined in barriques is added. Time, patience and tradition in the winemaking process are the key words not only in this wine, but in any decision we take.

Südtirol, South Tyrol, Alto Adige
The TECUM vineyard. Courtesy: Castelfeder
JB: You’ve learned from your parents and grandparents of course – but did you travel elsewhere in the world to learn your trade?

IG: I grew up with vines and wine since I was a child, but I was always curious to travel to all possible wine-growing areas in the world.

I had my first overseas winemaking experience in 2001 the Hunter Valley (Australia) at Allendale Winery. Two years later I studied at the famous University of Geisenheim in the Rhine Valley in Germany where I had the great opportunity to work for many prestigious VDP (Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter, the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates) wineries in Germany. In 2006 I practiced at Seifried Estate in New Zealand for more than six month, learning a lot about new world Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

Since 2010 I own the Riesling Estate Sorentberg in the Mosel Valley. This south-facing steep slope vineyard was abandoned for more then 25 years and re-cultivated in 2011.

JB: What is your vision for Castelfeder?

IG: Vines and wine have become a project of life for me and my family. Treating our grapes and wines gently, and with respect to their individual character and origin, is one of the cornerstones of my business philosophy. The wines I produce today are the result of our intense and devoted work for four generations. I would like to transmit this to my three children Lisa, Greta and Marie.

Winemaking Family, Italian Winemaker
The next generation. Courtesy: Castelfeder
JB: I’m always curious about how grape growing and winemaking influences the local community in terms of ecology, culture and economy. Where does Castelfeder fit in, in your opinion?

Agriculture is the main business in Alto Adige as more than half of the population is connected to agriculture. Apple plantings and vineyards shape the character of the landscape! Castelfeder contributes its small but important part in maintaining vital the environment of our beautiful Alpine region and giving it a distinctive cultural character by producing authentic regional wines.

Thank you, deeply and sincerely to Ivan for sharing his story, a family winery with a past and future in this important and treasured place in our world. For more details visit the winery:

Castelfeder Estate

Via F.-Harpf-Straße 15
39040 Cortina s.s.d.Vino (BZ)
Phone +39 0471 820 420
Fax +39 0471 820 410
Mail: info@castelfeder.it

Opening Hours:
Mo – Th 8:00-12:00 / 13:00 – 17:00
Fr 8:00-12:00
Tastings by appointment only.

 

Pergola vines, vineyards, trellis system
Thank you to Ivan Giovanett for chatting with L’occasion. Photo Courtesy: Castelfeder
Italian Food, Wine and Travel – #ItalianFWT

Join us on Saturday, August 5th at 10 am central on twitter to chat about the Alpine Wines of Italy. Look for the hashtag #ItalianFWT. Everyone is welcome to join us for the chat, which includes questions and answers from these top wine bloggers. Ask your questions, share your travel experiences or clue us in on your favorite Alpine wines.In time for the chat, the following writers will publish their posts on the topic. Look forward to:

JENNIFER FROM VINOTRAVELS (AND THE CHAMPION OF ITALIAN FOOD, WINE AND TRAVEL) WILL SHARE VINEYARDS OF THE DOLOMITES WITH 2013 CASTEL SAN MICHELE ALL’ADIGE.

Jennifer is the author of Planning Your Dream Wedding in Tuscany. Her perspectives on Rias Baixes DO, Villa Maria winemaker Helen Morrison and Italian red wines for summer are recent blog highlights.

SUSANNAH FROM AVVINARE WILL COVER WHITE WINES FROM AOSTA HIT HIGH NOTES.

Recently, Susannah has written about underrated Molise, the Italian varietal Marsanne Bianco and the Argentinian winery Dona Paula.

KATELYN FROM THRONE & VINE PRESENTS DIVINELY ALPINE – EXPLORING THE WINES OF ELENA WALCH.

Throne & Vine has recently covered South Tyrol’s wayside shrines, wickedly cool castles in South Tyrol and reasons for visiting Alto Adige.

LAUREN FROM THE SWIRLING DERVISH TELLS THE STORY OF HEARTS ON FIRE: A SUMMER TRADITION IN ALTO ADIGE.

Visit Lauren’s blog for comprehensive coverage on wines from the Tour de France route, the summer wine blend of Verdicchio + Vermentino and the Burgundian region of Mercurey.

LYNN FROM SAVOR THE HARVEST RECOMMENDS THE ONE HIGH ALTITUDE WINE REGION YOU MUST TRY #ITALIANFWT.

Lynn’s blog covers her summer French rosé tasting, the French Basque wine region of Irouléguy and the bubbly Italian wine Franciacorta.

CAMILLA, OF CULINARY ADVENTURES WITH CAMILLA, COOKS UP BEEF & BAROLO, TWO PIEDMONTESE DARLINGS.

Peach-tomato salad with herb vinaigrette, grilled Porterhouse with pea-shoot pesto and Arròs Negre {black paella} with allioli a la catalana are some of the fresh features on Camilla’s blog.

JEFF, AUTHOR OF FOODWINECLICK! GETS INTO UNIQUE MOUNTAIN WINES OF ALTO ADIGE.

Organic Natura wines, Vignobles Brumont, a Madiran producer in Southwest France and Italian Wine 101: Intro to Italian Wine and Chianti are topics Jeff has on the blog now.

MARTIN OVER AT ENOFYLZ WINE BLOG PROVIDES A TASTE OF LUGANA; 2013 TENUTA ROVEGLIA “VIGNE DI CATULLO” LUGANA RISERVA #ITALIANFWT.

Martin covered ten white wines from Lodi for summer, his wines of the day picks and a highlight of Southwestern France’s Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.

GWENDOLYN FROM WINEPREDATOR WRITES ABOUT HEADING OFF TO THE ALPS FOR #ITALIANFWT.

Gwendolyn has published over 600 posts on her blog – this summer she covered the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Spanish white wines paired with tacos and how to taste and pair wine + cheese.

AND HERE AT L’OCCASION WE HAVE A WINEMAKER RENDEZVOUS: IVAN GIOVANETT OF CASTELFEDER. (ALSO LOOK FOR A RE-FEATURE OF ROTARI WINES ON SOCIAL MEDIA.)

Previous Winemaker Rendezvous features include Melissa Burr of Stoller Family Estates, Greg Rowdan of Matua and Theresa Heredia of Gary Farrell (plus more here).

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. culinarycam says:

    What a great post! I can’t wait to track down some wines from Ivan, Jill. Appreciate you hosting this month.

    Like

  2. Love your interviews! Thanks for the introduction to these folks and their wines!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Thanks Jennifer! I love the stories people share – thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. Lynn says:

    Interesting to hear about their use of Pergola and Guyot trellising for older versus newer varieties. Giovanett sounds like a thoughtful man. Thanks for your enjoyable interview Jill!

    Like

  4. I get the sense that growing grapes in this region is truly a labor of love. Lucky for us wine lovers, Ivan and his family are up to the task. I particularly admire their philosophy of Niente di troppo; as applicable in life as it is in winemaking. Thanks for a great field trip to the Sudtirol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      I also imagine the beauty of the place and the dedication of such a setting. I enjoyed learning about the trellis aspect, the work from one generation to the next. Thanks Lauren!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fascinating interview Jill! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  6. What a beautiful place and what a cool winegrower family. Thanks for sharing Jill!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very insightful interview into the viticulture of the region. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kate says:

    Such a thorough interview! I always love hearing about the generations of family-run wineries in South Tyrol. The attention given to each individual grape’s character and focus on treating each wine gently to allow it’s full flavor to shine, is a philosophy to be admired! I’m definitely going to need to pick up a bottle of their Lagrein!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Thanks Kate! Glad to have you join us this month. Please do let me know when you drink Ivan’s wine. Cheers!

      Like

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