In the afternoon, right after completing the harvest, Kerschbamer
planes the field to prevent the asparagus from growing further. “At some point, it would simply emerge too far”, he says while
cutting spear after spear. It’s tedious hands-on work, but he is
lucky to have three daughters that give him a hand whenever he
Thanks to his many years of experience, it is easy for Kerschbamer
to identify all the spots where asparagus spears are to be found,
even when the crowns have not yet emerged: You have to watch
for fine cracks in the sandy soil. He cuts them at a length of
23 centimetres (approx. 9 inches), because all the spears going
into sale should be at least 20 centimetres (approx. 8 inches)
long. To prevent the crops from going stringy, asparagus has to
be planted below the soil line, and each trench is then filled with
soil and covered with a dark-coloured tarp to keep the sunlight
out, which would turn the spears violet. For all his hard work, he
yields approximately half a kilo of asparagus per season and plant.
Back in 1997, Kerschbamer started planting asparagus between
his apple trees in the village of Lana di Sotto. The soil here is very
sandy and thus ideal for the delicate crop. Moreover, this zone is
very prone to hail and has seen 19 bouts of hail over the course
of 25 years – a serious threat to the apple yield.
The other section of his two hectares of land is used for planting
grape vines and some apple trees. In 1998, he started making
wine for personal consumption.
In 2003, the farmer opened an o∞cial commercial winery called
“Weingut Hännsl am Ort” (Hännsl, your local winery), and
now grows seven different varieties: Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay,
Sauvignon and Schiava, Merlot, Lagrein and Pinot Noir. Moreover,
they bottle DOC quality wines. “I like winemaking, because it allows
me to be creative and design a signature product”, he proudly
says. Some of the apples he grows are delivered to a fruit growers’
cooperative, others are used for making apple juice. His customers
appreciate all the hard work that goes into his products.
“I like being in touch with consumers, especially in the modern
day and age when production has become ever more anonymous”,
Kerschbamer says, glad to have opted for this strategy.