THE LADY OF SANTA MADDALENA
As we turn the corner a gentle breeze wafts by from the right, hurrying its way down the steps to the entrance. Before us, we see a steel cornice framing the vineyard of Schiava and a sculpture of a woman on one of its columns representing the Santa Maddalena, the Schiava, and the grape itself. And yet another strong woman stands at the helm to uphold the age-old traditions of the Pfannenstielhof farm: Margareth Pfeifer. Loving wife and mother, Margareth is also a business woman and an expert in matters of wine. For over twenty years now, she has been running the family vineyard and marketing the wines that are home-born on the slopes of Santa Giustina. It was Margareth who commissioned the steel sculpture "The window on the vineyard,” for her husband Hannes, a seventh-generation winemaker, and she who gave her smile of assent when Hannes first proposed creating a Lagrein rosé last year. If asked, however, Margareth would never say that she is the soul of the vineyard. She works behind the scenes, oftentimes until late at night, to ensure that every vintage is presented as it should be. She organises tasting sessions in the private stube parlour, furnished with understated elegance, and tells her two daughters the tales of the vines and the secrets concealed in every bottle in the teeming cellar with fervent passion. After fifteen years of teaching mathematics and twenty-three in the family business, she still has that sparkle in her eyes of those who love what they do, and love passing it on to those who will come later. The girls are still at school, there’s plenty time for them to decide whether or not to take over the farm, and there’s no pressure on them. The only thing that must be passed on is passion. The same passion can be seen in the carvings on a century-old barrel at the entrance to the winery: this is another gift of Hannes's family, testimony to the work of the last three generations. And among the fine wooden barrels where the wines are maturing until Easter, a special corner is reserved for the fruits of these long years of work: A thin layer of dust envelops the old bottles that the Pfeifer family guard over protectively. Some date back to Hannes's grandfather's harvests and others are more recent, including those holding the vintage that earned the winery their three Gambero Rosso glasses. But if the cellars express the labours of the men of the family, other aspects of the farm call to mind the women of wine: Margareth, the Schiava and the Santa Maddalena grapes. Two sculptures of women in the vineyard, a third near the window facing the Isarco ... maybe it’s just an impression, but judging by Margareth’s smile it seems that they speak of other stories yet to be told.
(Translated into English / Photos: Pfannenstielhof / BMl)