Postcard from Merano: Part II

The spa hotel we stayed in was part of a family owned and run local empire. We much enjoyed meeting and chatting to the 80 year old family patriarch whose story was rather interesting!

How it all began

What do the bitter Jägermeister, the Romanovs, Pinot Noir, pigs  and a very charming hotel in Merano all have in common? It all starts with Castello Rametz, the oldest winery in South Tyrol, at the time of the Tsars (to whom crates of wine were sent to St. Petersburg on a dedicated railway line) owned by Federico Boscarolli, who around the mid-nineteenth century imports noble Burgundy vines and plants them for the first time in South Tyrol.

Ausländische Abfüller von Jägermeister KLE Hochsitz-Cola - die Jägermeistersammlung von KLE

In 1970 Karl Schmid, an enlightened entrepreneur and producer under license for Italy of the well-known German bitter Jägermeister, acquired Castello Rametz and sets about its renaissance and further development.

In addition, Schmid was a regular visitor to hotels dedicated to wellness, especially in Austria and Germany, so he decided to create a one of his own in 1983 by taking  two elegant adjoining private villas in Merano and turning them into into the first Italian “Beauty Farm”. Ten years after its acquisition, the hotel’s management passed to his daughter Angelika.

As mentioned above, prior to acquiring Villa Eden, Karl Schmid had bought the wine-growing estate Castello Rametz in Obermais (Meran) and soon afterwards in 1976 the wine estate Castel Monreale with its vineyards (sparkling and white wines) in Faedo near San Michele all’Adige.

Castello Rametz in Merano has one of the richest wine-making traditions in the province. There is documentary evidence of grapes having been grown there since 1227.

The hectares of grape growing areas around Castello Rametz are planted with Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapevines are supported for the most part with Guyot trellises and posts made from weather-resistant chestnut wood.

The grapes are turned into wine in the castle’s own cellars. The large 18th century one is made entirely of stone blocks and is home to the large oak barrels while, in the small cellar dating from 12th century, the valuable barrique wines are matured in small oak casks.

The Castle also has its own restaurant, wine shop and wine museum. The museum was set up in 1980 to house the numerous tools once used for viticulture, and the cultivation and processing of grain and cereals, typical of the area. Since 2007 the collection has been enriched with pictures and old objects used for the processing and production of speck, yet another of the family’s interests.

The Schmid family has been making refined meat specialties in Plaus for three generations. Consequently, the fame of their delicious and high-quality products extends beyond the region’s borders. The company changed its name to Schmid Speck in 2012. The following year it joined the Speck Alto Adige Consortium and their speck was awarded with the “Speck Alto Adige protected geographical indication” label, an important seal of quality.

File:Castello di Monreale da Cadino.jpg

The family’s other main vineyard, the Castello di Monreale, also known as Königsberg Castle, is a medieval mansion, first mentioned in 1238. It was a fortress of the Counts of Appiano in the early 14th century, when its domain extended to Val di Cembra. Over the centuries, the castle was acquired by the counts of Tyrol, then by the episcopal principality of Trento, by the Habsburgs, and then by its current owner.

Needless to say, the Hotel offers tours of the vineyards and wine tastings while many of the family’s delicious products feature on its menu. And, we may just have transported a few of them back home.

25 Comments on “Postcard from Merano: Part II

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