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Südtirol / Alto Adige, Italy

From the moment you scan the horizon overlooking the southern Isarco Valley from Gumphof, you realize you’re in for something very special. First mentioned in 1546, the Gump winery has been in the Prackwieser family for over 200 years, with winemaker Markus Prackwieser assuming the helm from his father in 2000.

Sited on 50-70% southwest-facing slopes at 400-800 meters, with a view to the Isarco River below and the Dolomites above, it is almost impossible to take in the vista in one glance. Add to this the architecture of the winery itself, which almost disappears into the horizon with its cellar and tasting room dug into the bedrock of the slope, and a natural and inviting entrance to draw you into the mysteries held within.

Only a single plot of Vernatsch with the traditional pergola suggests the long heritage of historic winemaking here, all else is entirely modern, including the excellent and elegant wines. Asking to taste the Vernatsch, I learn a new German phrase after my smile reveals my assessment. “Genuß ohne reue” says Markus – a wine to “enjoy with no regrets”.

While the traditional Vernatsch grape in Markus’ hands has been awarded as the best of Südtirol, its elegance only sets the stage for a series of surprises – Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Noir that each present their varietal character through an Alpine lens.

Markus humbly gives credit to the terroir and unique microclimate of the site, which benefits from the Ora winds that blow warmth and dryness from the Mediterranean by day, while cool winds descend from the Dolomites by night, resulting in the unusual elegance and complexity of these wines.

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