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Delicious, Wallet-Friendly Refreshment from the Mountainous Pocket of North West Italy

Wines from isolated, mountainous pockets of the world can be exhilarating discoveries for those seeking new drinking experiences. The Alto Adige in Italy’s remote, mountainous north is perhaps the quirkiest high-altitude region going. Yes, you are technically in Italy, but forget about pasta, tanned youths on Vespas and your high school Italian. This is the Südtirol, a stone’s throw from the Austrian and Swiss borders and encircled by the saw-toothed Dolomite Mountains. Südtirol is the German name (South Tyrol in English), as the region borders Austria’s Tyrol state to the north. In fact, this area was part of Austria until WW1, and so the Germanic influence runs deep, here the restaurants serve hearty dumplings; smoked pork and sauerkraut; you drive a snow plough in winter; and the locals speak German as often as Italian, or even Ladin, a local dialect spoken only in this part of the world.

Alto Adige’s wines are as singular as their setting. This is isolated, high-altitude viticulture at its most extreme. Here, an endless variety of stony, well-drained, south-facing slopes look down on the Adige River from highs varying from 750-3250 feet. A wide range of grape varieties have long been grown here and intense aromatics, fresh acidity, and spiciness run through all the best wines. For wine buyers looking to Italy for diversity and value, this is as good a place to start as any. We think these wines offer some of the brightest, most exciting values we ship—with not a Pinot Grigio in sight! 

The style of Girlan’s wines is very much in the zeitgeist; aromatic, textural, snappy whites and delicious, fragrant, crunchy-fresh reds.

Founded in 1923 as a small co-operative winery with 23 growers on their books, Girlan is based in the heart of Italy’s beautiful, mountainous, Alto Adige region. This historic Cantina has always been determined to do things differently. It was one of the first in the region to pay a premium based on the quality of grapes received. That charter has only been strengthened under the current direction of Oscar Lorandi and cellarmaster Gerhard Kofler. Today they work with 200 families who farm around 215 hectares of vines (small in the context of the region), meaning the average grower’s holding still lies under a single hectare of vines. If the grower delivers grapes of a quality to make it into a premium Girlan bottling, they get a generous bonus. This incentive clearly goes a long way and it is therefore little wonder that this address is held up as one of the beacons of the Valle dell’Adige. The wines speak loudly of their region’s mountainous, stony terroirs in a way that belies their humble price tag.

It’s therefore no accident that we have happily worked with this over-delivering Alto Adige outfit for as long as we can remember. The quality and value are outstanding. The Adige produces many outstanding wines and the best of these are typically in the upper price ranges—so to have a producer that offers such value is something to cherish. 

The Range

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"Girlan is the only estate that never gave up on Schiava, even in its darkest hours and has been producing this outstanding and long-lived Gschleier Alte Reben since 1975." Jancisrobinson.com



Primary Region

Alto Adige


Winemaker: Gerhard Kofler and Oscar Lorandi



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