Elena Walch

Alto Adige, Italy


Elena Walch is a 5-generation family-run estate in Alto Adige, a region in the North-East part of Italy, that led the wine quality revolution in the area and has gained a prominent international reputation.

An architect by trade, Elena Walch married into one of the oldest and most significant wine families of the region and brought new, modern concepts to the traditional approach. Today, the responsibility for the family business is in the hands of the Elena’s daughters, Julia and Karoline.

With 90 hectares of vines, including the two most representative, VIGNA Castel Ringberg in Caldaro und VIGNA Kastelaz in Tramin, Elena Walch is one of the most important producers in Alto Adige.

The estate is internationally respected for varietal wines sourced from multiple proprietary locations, ‘Vigna’ wines from some of the most acclaimed sites in the valley and award-winning, top cuvees such as the renowned “Beyond the Clouds.”

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Born and raised in Milan, Elena Walch completed architecture studies in Venice and settled in Bolzano when she married into a prominent wine family in the village of Tramin.

Fascinated by the interplay between nature, people and pleasure, and unbiased by preconceptions, she set about investigating avenues for improvement. Elena’s list of innovations, including high-density planting, “Guyot” vine training and employment of French oak barriques, represented a sensational change in thinking thirty years ago.

Paramount to the evolution was a dedication to single vineyard wines, individually expressive of their specific place, an idea unheard of in Alto Adige at the time.

Luckily, the next generation of Walchs, sisters Julia and Karoline – oenologically educated in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Adelaide – are taking the lead while continuing to follow the family’s successful recipe: progress without losing respect for tradition.

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Alto Adige – the northernmost wine region in Italy – is blessed with a combination of Mediterranean warmth and, due to the altitude of the best vineyard sites, very cool nights, creating a unique and desirable tension in the wines.

Despite accounting for less than one percent of the national output, the region is home to the highest percentage of ‘D.O.C.’ wines (98% of the vine growing area).

All vineyards, small and larger, lend diversity of soils, aspects and altitude, to blend varietal wines of deep character.

Recently, the family has expanded vines to previously unplanted altitudes in search of higher acidity levels, from 2,000 ft to 3,000 ft a.s.l.


Vigna Castel Ringberg

At 20 hectares, Vigna “Castel Ringberg” may well be the largest contiguous vineyard in Alto Adige. Named for the Renaissance castle built there by Habsburgs in 1620 and rising up from Lake Caldaro in alternating moderate and steep slopes, it is a crown jewel of the region and another monopole for Elena Walch, from where many of her award-winning, mineral-driven wines emanate.

In addition to variable altitudes from 1,080 to 1,300 ft a.s.l, “Castel Ringberg” also boasts a multiplicity of soils. The higher perches, climbing into the “Mendel” ridge of the Dolomites, are of 30,000-year-old glacial Adige River gravel, while calcareous soils with morainic substrata join loose limestone in gentler lower zones. The moderating influence of the lake and the strong afternoon drying southerly wind known as “Ora” also contribute to the balanced, elegant character of the wines, from a host of native and international varieties.

Grape varieties grown are Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Lagrein.

Vigna Kastelaz

The recognized single vineyard Vigna site of “Kastelaz” dominates the landscape of the wine village of Tramin.

Sloped at an imposing 63% steepness with a rare full Southern exposure, this 5-hectare narrowly terraced vineyard scales from 1,080 to 1,250 ft a.s.l. on a layered structure of loose limestone soils, interspersed with post-glacial sand, granite, and porphyry.

The best elements of Alto Adige viticulture are further magnified here, as the south-facing position grants even more of the region’s ubiquitous sunshine. At the same time, strong winds and altitude engender very cool evening temperatures.

As the namesake location for the Gewürztraminer variety (“the spicy grape of Tramin,”) this town has been closely associated with viticulture for centuries. Historical records cite Bishop Friedrich von Wangen as establishing a wine cellar on this hill circa 1214. The “Castellaccio,” or “little castle” there gave way to the modern name of “Kastelaz.”

Grapes varieties grown are Gewürztraminer and Merlot.


The philosophy of the estate is dedicated to its terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate and cultivation in the vineyard – and that must be maintained according to the principles of sustainability. The firm belief that the quality of wine is created in the vineyard requires uncompromising work, taking into account the individuality of each vineyard.

The wines show character, elegance and great personality, reflecting the most innovative winemaking. The superb climatic conditions and the excellent location of the vineyards produce fresh and fruity white wines as well as concentrated and velvety red wines.

Sustainable work is at the heart of the company’s philosophy and was introduced more than a decade ago. The three main areas of application are in the vineyards, in the cellar and in the packaging.

The Indigenous Varieties

Schiava: Planted in Alto Adige since as early as the sixteenth century, in recent decades, the area planted was drastically reduced, and thus Schiava gained considerably in quality. As a light wine with moderate tannins, floral tones of violets and fresh berries, it has a softer style in Lake Caldaro.

Lagrein: Although it nearly disappeared by the end of the 1970s, Lagrein has in the meantime conquered a constantly growing fan base. The indigenous wine filled with character has its roots in Bolzano and is impressive with its velvety fullness and soft acidity. The noble, spicy tones are accompanied by fruity berries, fresh cherries, and violets. When aged in small oak casks, Lagrein unfolds its elegant, full-bodied presence.

Gewurztraminer: With its scent of rose petals, cloves, lychees, and other tropical fruits as well as a luxuriant texture, is the Gewürztraminer a fascinating variant of grape. The Alto Adige winegrowing village of Tramin (Termeno in Italian) appears to have lent its name to the Gewürztraminer variety. “Traminer” was a term known throughout the entire German-speaking world as early as the thirteenth century. Today, this aromatic white is one of the most sought-after of Alto Adige’s wines.

The Vigna Denomination

The term is an additional denomination of origin, recognizing a precisely demarcated and cartographically recorded single vineyard. Each “Vigna” is approved by regional authorities and is based on topographical specificity and historical performance.

By registering these vineyards in the strictly-controlled Vigna classification, Elena Walch guarantees rigorous traceability of their single vineyard wines – not possible without the designation – and confirms their dedication to maintaining the legacy of quality these sites represent.

Elena Walch’s two VIGNA are the vineyards of Vigna Kastelaz and Vigna Castel Ringberg. Both recognized for generations for their unique terroir and for decades produced and commercialized by using the name of the same single vineyard they derive from.

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