Mining Gewürztraminer for Greatness


An Italian co-op takes a misunderstood grape to new heights—aging it in an abandoned silver mineTermeno is a Tyrolean wine dream.

This postcard-perfect town, commonly known by its old Austrian name, Tramin (pop. 3,400), is a collection of traditional Alpine houses and cobblestone streets that rise up from the Adige river valley in far northeastern Italy. Steep terraced vineyards climb 1,000 feet to conifer forests at the edge of the Dolomite mountains.  

About 60 miles south of the Austrian border, Tramin/Termeno is believed to have lent its name to Gewürztraminer, an aromatic variety often ignored in the U.S. because of the bad rep created by cloyingly sweet German versions that flooded the States decades ago.

It's also one of the few places (after France's Alsace) where Gewürztraminer gets its due respect.

"It's a very old grape with a lot of history," says Willi Stürz, 49, the winemaker atCantina Tramin, a nearly 120-year-old cooperative that contracts grapes from about 150 families with combined vineyards totaling more than 600 the full blog (free) at