Südtiroler Weinstrasse – Wine and Bike: In Pursuit of the Vine

Wine cellar on the Wine Road
Wine cellar on the Wine Road

There is perhaps no experience quite so delightful as cycling along the South Tyrolean Wine Road on a warm, sunny day. Italy’s oldest wine road reaps the benefits of the region’s dry, mild climate and more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Visitors will find a number of activities along the way-and some noteworthy culinary indulgences.

The serene and picturesque wine road comprises three different routes for cyclists. Each one follows a trail that winds through breathtaking landscapes with opportunities to stop and see castles or visit wine cellars along the way. Cyclists will have the opportunity to taste the region’s most important native grape varieties: Lagrein, Vernatsch, and Gewürztraminer. International reds and whites grown in the area are also on offer: Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet all have a long history of cultivation in South Tyrol.

The three cycling routes that make up the South Tyrolean Wine Road meander along the Adige (Etsch) River and through the verdant orchards that thrive in the valley. The trails have no demanding grades: even beginning cyclists will enjoy winding through apple orchards and vineyards. You’ll pass old railroad lines, bike alongside lakes and ponds, and see medieval castles and stately mansions. Open wine cellars offer a welcome place to stop and take a break.

All three paths are open throughout the year. They can be cycled as a single trail or combined together for those seeking a longer route.

The Northern Wine Route:
In Pursuit of Lagrein and Sauvignon

 The Northern Wine Route: In Pursuit of Lagrein and Sauvignon
The Northern Wine Route:
In Pursuit of Lagrein and Sauvignon – photo © Compusol

The northern route of the South Tyrolean Wine Road begins in the city of Bolzano (Bozen) right in the central square, Piazza Walther (Waltherplatz). The trail leaves from Bolzano’s old town and leads through Cardano (Kardaun), Rencio (Rentsch), Gries, Terlano (Terlan), Vilpiano (Vilpian) and Nalles (Nals). The return leg runs from Andriano (Andrian) to Frangarto (Frangart), and then back to Bolzano. You can choose to do the Bolzano – Terlano leg by train.
This trail is 45 kilometres long and departs from the bustling heart of Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol, in the direction of Gries. It passes through the vineyards where the region’s most important native noble red is grown. This is also the homeland of the popular indigenous blend called Santa Maddalena (St. Magdalener). You will cycle past the historical winery along the way, the Kellerei Bozen, Muri-Gries monastery cellar and H. Rottensteiner.

At this point, we highly recommend a side trip to see the extraordinary Runkelstein Castle, a medieval gem: its exceptionally well-preserved frescoes alone are worth the trip. Near the castle, which also has a tavern, you’ll find a nice selection of wines to take home with you at the wine estate Schmid Oberrautner.

The wine trail continues from San Maurizio (Moritzing) behind Gries through a unique landscape full of vineyards, historic mansions and estates. The route passes the wine estate and sparkling wine producer Von Braunbach and the award-winning Kellerei Terlan and Kellerei Nals Margreid, which both feature wine tasting of the well-known Sauvignon.

At Vilpiano, the route crosses vineyards and orchards, continuing to the other side of the valley, where it leads through the wine village of Andriano and to the Walcher Estates Distillery which offers guided tours and tastings of its single-variety grappas.

The northern wine trail continues in the direction of Frangarto up to Firmian Castle. The imposing medieval castle towering high above Bolzano has been home to the main Messner Mountain Museum since 2004. The museum, which is located at five different sites, explores the history of mountaineering and man’s relationship with the mountains.

Back in Bolzano, visitors can enjoy the city’s Italian lifestyle, perhaps by enjoying a leisurely espresso on the plaza, and see some of its contemporary art and architecture. South Tyrol’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Museion, is a must for fans of contemporary art.

Where to stay in Bolzano

There are quality hotels, apartments, villas and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Cardano

There are hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Terlano

There are quality hotels, condo hotels, villas and farm stays available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Vilpiano

There are quality hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Nalles

There are quality hotels, condo hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Frangarto

There are quality hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

The Central Wine Route:
In Pursuit of Pinot Blanc and Schiava (Vernatsch)

The Central Wine Route: In Pursuit of Pinot Blanc and Schiava (Vernatsch)
The Central Wine Route:
In Pursuit of Pinot Blanc and Schiava (Vernatsch) – photo © Compusol

The central route, which is 23 kilometres long, leads through some of the most charming and historical villages along the South Tyrolean Wine Road. These include Cornaiano (Girlan), Appiano (Eppan) and Caldaro (Kaltern), known for the French grape Pinot Blanc and Schiava, an indigenous variety.
This bike trail, the shortest of the three, begins in front of Caldaro’s well-known estates Cantina Kellerei Kaltern and Erste + Neue. From there, the path leads through the woods up to the two charming lakes at Monticolo (Montiggl): this is a great place to take a little breather or even jump right into the water.

The route continues to Cornaiano, an historical wine village with an interesting feature: the town’s subterranean wine cellars have a surface area greater than that of the entire village. Many wineries, including Girlan and Niedermayr, offer guided tours and tastings. Fischerhof Farm is a distillery: the family makes premium spirits right on the farm that you can sample.

The next leg of the central wine trail is to San Paolo (St. Pauls). Here, you’ll find the old Schreckenstein Manor: the estate has a popular wine bar and unique cellar designed for the lively harvest festivals traditionally celebrated in South Tyrol. The route continues on to San Michele (St. Michael), the main village of Appiano. In the heart of this historical area of cultivation, which is dotted with castles and mansions, we find the St. Michael-Eppan and J. Brigl wineries. The next stop along the trail is the prestigious Stroblhof Estate, which has a fabulous restaurant and terrace garden.
The next stop, Hocheppan Castle, is an absolute must-see. The castle was built in the twelfth century but is still in use today and affords breathtaking panoramic views across the entire valley, stretching as far as the stunning Dolomites.

From here, our route leads us back to Caldaro, which is well known for its lake and as the place of origin of the Schiava variety of grape. There is a cluster of prominent wineries around Caldaro that includes Steflhof and Klosterhof. Wine House PUNKT is definitely worth a stop, as is Peter Sölva & Söhne Winery and the sleek, ultra-modern wine shop, the winecenter, at Kellerei Kaltern.

Where to stay in Caldaro

There are quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Cornaiano

There are quality hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Appiano

There are quality hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Southern Wine Route:
In Pursuit of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir

Southern Wine Route: In Pursuit of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir
Southern Wine Route:
In Pursuit of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir- photo © Compusol

The longest of the three cycling trails that comprise the ancient South Tyrolean Wine Road begins in the wine village of Cortaccia (Kurtatsch) and leads in the direction of Margrè (Margreid), Cortina s.s.d.v. (Kurtinig), and Salorno (Salurn). On the way back, the trail passes through Egna (Neumarkt) and Ora (Auer) then continues up to the village of Termeno (Tramin). Doing the Salorno – Ora leg by train is a convenient option if the length of the trail seems challenging to you.

The southern route of the South Tyrolean Wine Road, which covers 39.2 kilometres, begins in the heart of the winegrowing village of Cortaccia and leads south towards Magrè, passing Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof Winery. This estate, which dates back to the twelfth century, has a tavern in the garden of the castle – a perfect place for a quick snack.

Continuing south, the trail passes a grape vine in Magrè that was grafted way back to 1601. Pioneer viticulturist Alois Lageder opened Paradeis nearby: this chic wine bar and shop offers tastings, meals, and a good selection of bottles – it’s also a nice place to just hang out. The trail continues on to Cortina s.s.d.v., a lovely hamlet that locals nicknamed “Little Venice” for its recurring floods.
Salorno, the southernmost village in South Tyrol, is dominated by Haderburg Castle, a fortification high atop a cliff that was first mentioned in the 11th century. Farther northerly are the centuries-old arcades of the medieval trading village Egna worth seeing and Ora, the picturesque at the foot of Castelfeder, the Arcadia of Tyrol.

On the way back, the trail passes through the village of Termeno, which is quite known in the wine world: the German name of the town, Tramin, is the namesake of the much-loved Gewürztraminer. Gewürztraminer reaches its zenith here: we highly recommend a visit to some of the town’s historical wineries, many of which feature striking contemporary architecture. Cantina Tramin, Hofstätter, Elena Walch and the Hofkellerei W. & G. are four of the most prestigious estates. A trip to Traminer Weinhaus is another must: you’ll find the wine store just before the trail leads back to Cortaccia. Cyclists can lock their bikes here, and see the historical Schwarzer Adler restaurant: its vaulted ceilings and contemporary architecture are definitely worth the visit.

Where to stay in Termeno

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Cortaccia

There are high quality hotels, apartments and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Salorno

There are high quality hotels and hostels available, check them out and make a reservation here.