Authenticity is everything

TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTOS © TENUTA SAN GIORGIO

With a passion for its roots, the prestigious, family-owned wine estate Tenuta San Giorgio stands for artisanship, dedication and technical expertise. The estate’s outstanding location in Ticino’s Malcantone can be tasted in their intricate wines – and so can the great deal of passion that is involved in the wine-making process here.

Bought by great-grandmother Emma Rudolph-Schwarzenbach in 1940, Tenuta San Giorgio’s land was primarily used for agriculture at first. “When my dad took over the estate in 1990, more vines started to be grown and people quickly recognised the location’s potential. The idea to make more out of it was born,” smiles Mike Rudolph who moved to Ticino in 2001 to establish a viticulture and vinification entreprise on his great-grandmother’s land. Today, Tenuta San Giorgio cultivates around seven hectares of vines in unique locations, produces around 30,000 bottles annually and belongs to Switzerland’s 100 best wine-growing estates, according to Gault Millau.

The recipe for success

“Our enthusiasm for wine and the all-natural cultivation of grapes, as well as thriving for the best, drives us every day. Of course, the unique location at Lake Lugano with its unique microclimate also helps us to pursue our goals,” explains Rudolph. The wine estate’s vineyards are situated in outstanding locations at an altitude of between 320 and 520 metres above sea level, extending between Agno and Pura. The different plots are all comprised of unique microclimates that produceexcellent grapes year by year.

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Tenuta San Giorgio’s vineyards are almost exclusively situated in sandy, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic – moraines from millions of years ago. The sunlight exposure from the southeast and the southwest allows the wine estate to experiment with a range of vine species. “Therefore, we also grow Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Marselan in addition to Merlot. Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Kerner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Albarinho are white wines we experiment with. This gives us new experience and allows us to further develop our wines. Besides experimenting in the vineyards, we also break new grounds in the cellar to refine our wines,” explains Rudolph.

Focus on high quality standards

“Only healthy grapes produce good wines. Thus, our focus is on viniculture and because we primarily press our own grapes we can uphold our high quality standards,” says Rudolph. During pressing and fermentation, great care is taken with handling and wine production. Rudolph explains: “The vinification of the wines is the essential thing of the respective vintage. Each grape variety and location are matured separately and only at the end the assemblage of our wines are defined. Each year, we strive for independent, vintage-specific wines that reflect our terroir and year. Our ultimate goal is to offer wines that are authentic.” Therefore, the small, dedicated team of long-term employees is constantly on the go, aware of the latest innovations and knowing how to handle the vagaries of nature and each vine’s unique character. After meticulous fermentation and pressing, the wines age in large wooden containers and barrels, while new and used barriques bring out the character of the wine and lend it its penetrating structures. For their white wines, the wine estate utilises low-temperature fermentation with limited use of new wood in order to bring out the fruity bouquet, freshness and mineral qualities.

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The outcome is intricate wines that perfectly express their origins. Rudolph says: “We only produce small amounts of wines that all are very popular with our clients: three different white and red wines, one sparkling wine with classic bottle fermentation and, depending on the year, our limited edition. Furthermore, we offer small amounts of grappa and nocino – a delicacy from Ticino that is produced according to an old family recipe.” The meticulous, all-natural cultivation of the vineyard, the unshakable commitment to obtaining the best grapes possible, the care given and the work in the wine cellar that reflects respect for tradition and a desire to experiment, translates into a limited selection of genuine wines of extraordinary quality.

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Visit Tenuta San Giorgio

If you want to learn more about Tenuta San Giorgio and its gorgeous wines, why not take part in a guided tour, followed by a wine tasting in the middle of the vineyards? On request, visitors can book a tour and tasting in the wine estate’s tasting room – a modern, renovated former barn in the vineyards which comprises breathtaking views of Lake Lugano.

Your stay at the Tenuta

In the heart of the old settlement, directly above the Tenuta San Giorgio wine cellar, is the small stone ‘Rustico’ apartment. In a quiet section of the settlement, it is the ideal home base for visiting the Malcantone and Lugano area. Come discover the world of wine, nature and the culture of the Sottoceneri area of Ticino!

The Agno airport is only ten minutes away by car.

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