The Grape Blossom Festival in celebration of the Versoaln vine, the largest and likely oldest vine in the world, took place on Friday 7 June – and has now become a tradition. The Tesimo—Prissiano (Tisens—Prissian) Tourism Association, the Südtiroler Bauernjugend Association, Katzenzungen Castle and the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, which took over patronage of this unique vine in 2006, organized a colorful program of events. In addition to enjoying music, local specialties and a complimentary guided viewing of the vine, attendees also learned about South Tyrol as a winegrowing region. Even the rarely poured Versoaln wine, which yields only 75–120 bottles a year, was available for tasting under the vine’s 300-m² canopy.
The largest and probably oldest vine in the world grows at the foot Katzenzungen Castle in Prissiano (Prissian) near Tesimo, at an elevation of around 600 meters. Its canopy encompasses more than 300 square meters and has reached the impressive age of more than 350 years old. In 2004, internationally renowned dendrochronologist Prof. Dr. M. Worbes of the University of Göttingen (D) scientifically determined the age of the vine on behalf of Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry. This extraordinary vine, characterized by sharply serrated foliage, is an indigenous grape that is trained on a traditional pergola made of chestnut and larch wood. Its grapes yield approximately 75–120 bottles of limited-edition wine annually.
The Versoaln vine
The Grape Blossom Festival in honor of this ancient vine was held for the second time last Friday. “This is a very special occasion of celebration when you stop to think about the fact that the Versoaln has bloomed more than 350 times,” said Heike Platter, marketing director of the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle. She gave festival attendees a brief introduction about South Tyrol’s winegrowing history, which dates back three millennia. Thomas Knoll, president of the Tesimo–Prissiano Tourism Association, was equally thrilled about the festival: “We are very proud of our vine, and the locals want to grow closer to this wonder of nature.”
Drinking a toast to the Versoaln vine: Ernst and Veronika Pobitzer, the owners of Katzenzungen Castle, Thomas Knoll, president of the Tesimo–Prissiano Tourism Association, and Heike Platter, marketing director of the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle.
After a tour of Katzenzungen Castle and a viewing of the vine – complete with a tasting of its venerable wine – the celebrations continued in the castle’s garden. Musical accompanied by accordion player Tobias Mair, a native of Tesimo, and local specialties including different Marendebrettl snack boards and apple strudel inspirited the mood of this summer afternoon and delighted palates.
The Südtiroler Bauernjugend association, Tisens/Prissian chapter, and the young accordion player, Tobias Mair, from Tesimo
Anyone who missed the Grape Blossom Festival will soon be able to see the Versoaln vine as well. The Gardens & Wine package, which is available at the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, offers visitors the possibility of touring the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle and Katzenzungen Castle in combination with a viewing of the Versoaln grape every Thursday in August, September and October. The itinerary finishes off with a tasting of South Tyrol’s five leading grape varieties and the Versoaln wine. The package price of € 30 per person includes round-trip shuttle service between the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle and Katzenzungen Castle.