Indeed, with the grape harvest in full swing the vineyards are bustling. Despite her heavy workload, winemaker Magdalena Pratzner, takes time off to tell us how she, as a female vintner, manages to operate in what is traditionally a male environment. She discusses the most important challenges of the future as she sees them, and why the screw cap is still frowned upon in some quarters.
Magdalena, how does the “Falkenstein Winery and Vineyard” resonate with wine aficionados?
Magdalena: Synonymous with high quality wines, the “Falkenstein” brand has a strong connection with Nature. Our wines are mostly produced in the vineyards, absorbing the nutrients of the soil in which the vine grows. We only intervene in the cellar when absolutely necessary. To us, wine is a natural product and should be largely created in its natural state. But the key to winemaking is: Passion. Without it, you won’t get anywhere.
Your father, Franz Pratzner, is considered a pioneer of Riesling wines and received the coveted “Angelo Betti” Italian award for viticulture. Do you feel that he’s set the bar too high or does his success inspire you?
No, I don’t feel any pressure due to his success. I’m proud of what my parents have achieved, and that they have entrusted me with their legacy. When it comes to Riesling, it’s true that my father almost perfected the process. This has taught me a lot and I don’t see a much room for much experimentation in the future. Everything is discussed among us and I receive plenty of advice. For me, it’s a continual learning process and I consider myself fortunate that I can fall back on my father’s extensive knowledge and experience. At the same time, he respects my decisions.
The world of agriculture and specifically viticulture, is still very traditional and male-dominated. As a young woman, how do you feel about it?
I’m actually treated with a lot of openness and respect. These days, more and more farms are taken over by women and daughters, though admittedly it’s still a small percentage of the total. In this part of the world, we’re still very influenced by Alpine traditions and an heiress is still regarded as something of an oddity. But in other parts of Italy, especially in Piemont and Tuscany, female farm managers are quite common and it’s nothing unusual. I’m sure there’s still scope for progress here in South Tyrol, though I can tell you that women are now considered better tasters and that seems to annoy some people (she laughs). The female brain seems to be more attuned to the different nuances of fragrances and aromas. This affects how one tastes, and women seem to be able to distinguish between a wider range