About Elena Walch
The story of Elena Walch and how she became one of the most recognized and lauded producers in Italy is certainly not a common one. Several years after launching her own architecture firm at age 28, Elena was contracted to oversee the restoration of a 17th century Austrian Hapsburg castle in the Alto Adige village of Tramin that housed the Wilhelm Walch winery and its proprietor, Werner Walch. Elena and Werner fell in love and were married in the late 1980s, and soon after Elena started looking curiously at the more than 50 acres of terraced vineyards that surrounded her new home.
Even without a formal background in wine, she saw the potential of the Walch’s vineyard holdings and its cellar that housed hand-carved oak casks still in pristine condition from the winery’s founding in 1869. Elena surmised that these vineyards could make very high-quality wines and her vision, determination and drive over the next few decades took the historical Walch estate from a virtually unknown regional winery into a critically-acclaimed and lauded producer.
Elena specifically saw great potential from two sites – Castel Ringberg and Kastelaz. Both of these vineyards received the VIGNA designation in 2015, which is a regional recognition in Alto Adige that is most closely related to a “Cru”.
VIGNA Castel Ringberg, which has since become one of the most important vineyards in Alto Adige, has plantings of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and the indigenous varietal, Lagrein. The very steep vineyard of Castel Ringberg ranges up to 1,500 feet and contains extremely diverse soil types of volcanic, sedimentary and granite and rock deposits from the nearby Dolomite mountains. This vineyard has become the core of the Elena Walch winery.
In 1997 Elena Walch and her wines hit the global stage by launching a single vineyard Gewürztraminer from the VIGNA Kastelaz. Now considered one of the most iconic white wines of Italy, the VIGNA Kastelaz Gewürztraminer showcases how this tricky and sometimes overripe variety can be clean, intensely aromatic and balanced with beautifully crisp minerality. It is a wine that finds itself on the best restaurant wine lists across Italy and is recognized as a benchmark example of the grape.
Elena’s passions and unique expression in winemaking can best be experienced through her most famous wine – Beyond the Clouds. This Chardonnay-dominant blend first was produced with the 2000 vintage and is one of the inspirations of the “Super White” Italian wine category that combines white grape varieties from various vineyards. Beyond the Clouds is a rare, limited wine that is always in demand from collectors of premium white wines.
Today, Elena Walch is passing on the operations of her eponymous winery on to her daughters Karoline and Julia, who assumed management of the winery in 2015. Still to this day, the wines of Elena Walch are some of the most sought-after aromatic white wines in Italy and have consistently shown their incredible aging potential and collectability. The winery is converting their 150 acres of vineyards to organic agriculture and continues to focus on creating the most aromatic and mineral-driven examples of the varieties that the estate produces.
Over the last 25+ years, the wines of Elena Walch have been recognized by critics and consumers alike as some of the best varietal expressions in Italy, and are a unique and needed addition to any collection of fresh, aromatic wines.