Wine tales: Dornach wine estate

Author: Alessandra Goio
Photos: Helmuth Rier, Mauro Fermariello

The historic Dornach wine estate is located in Salorno, in the heart of the Adige Valley. Since 2008, it is run by Patrick Uccelli, a winemaker and oenologist from South Tyrol, well-known in the region for its philosophical approach to viticulture.


Back to the roots


Born and raised in Bolzano, at the age of 20 Patrick starts a long journey across Europe. One of his stops is in southern Italy, working in several wineries in Apulia and Sicily. After 12 years away from home, he decides to make his way back to South Tyrol to start working at his family’s historic estate.


Patrick spends his first year as a winemaker at Dornach figuring out his own way of processing grapes. It is during this phase that he becomes his relationship with nature becomes very close and honest. This year full of inspiring moments leads him to start his own wine production, turning Dornach into a manufacture for natural wines.


In 2012, Patrick meets his future wife Karoline Terleth, a biologist with a deep understanding of nature who encourages him to keep testing his ideas for naturally processing wine.


Biodynamic encounters


Patrick has always believed in bringing his idea of nature into his wine. Inspired by the precepts of biodynamic agriculture, he conceives nature as a set of four elements that are profoundly tied together: there’s the mineral component, the vegetal, the animal and lastly the human one. His mission is to safeguard this delicate balance, for instance by letting his farm animals roam freely in the vineyards. For the experienced winemaker, animals do not just complete the ecosystem at Dornach, they’re also beneficial for a person’s psychological wellbeing.

Every bottle is unique


According to Patrick, making wine signifies creating unique products. It means using a combination of ingredients that cannot be identically replicated every year. As a clear demonstration of this belief, in 2019 he introduced an innovative way of labelling his bottles. On each of them it is engraved a number representing the bottling order. For example, on the very first bottle of 2019 is number 1, on the second one is number 2, and so on. The numbering is progressive and goes on every year.


We are what we eat


Healthy food is now a trending lifestyle, but for Patrick is something more meaningful. We all know the old saying “we are what we eat”, and precisely for this reason, self-knowledge comes through the food that we consume on a daily basis. This is why parallel to biodynamic viticulture, fruit and vegetables are grown organically at Dornach: vegetables, potatoes and corn, as well as herbs and salads that grow near the vineyards. It is Karoline’s valuable contribution as an experienced biologist that makes all this possible.


The role of wine estates today


Growing food for the family is for Patrick an immense satisfaction, as well as an opportunity to rethink the role of farms and wineries in contemporary society. In the era of global food value chains, along which the origins of food products become difficult to retrieve, these places of agriculture should become places of culture to teach consumers how to reconnect with food.

A farm, like a winery, is above all else a place of culture.

Finding the essential in life


Patrick’s return to South Tyrol has meant much more than just a physical comeback. From a spiritual point of view, he started a new journey, during which he managed to remove all the things that did not matter to him. At the end of this long, challenging process, there was only one thing that stayed: his family’s estate.


Starting their own production of natural wines at Dornach was a great achievement, yet there are still many ambitious projects that Patrick and Karoline want to accomplish. One of them is the construction of the new cellar next to the historic one. Their passion keeps pushing them towards new discoveries, in a continuous quest for essential happiness.

Wine tales: Dornach wine estate
Wine tales: Dornach wine estate
Alessandra Goio works as Digital Marketing and Content Manager for laifain.

Wines from the Dornach estate you should try


Patrick’s wines are very much like him: simple, clean, and respectful of the environment where they come from. Here are a couple of Patrick’s recommendations on his must-try wines:


  • #30: PiWi macerated white wine, Souvignier gris. Year 2021
  • #23: Silk white wine, 65% Pinot blanc, 35% Manzoni blanc. Year 2020


Discover here the other wines of the Dornach estate


Guided tours at Dornach


With our experience package at Salorno, we take you on a discovery tour in the history of the village of Salorno and the Adige Valley. After the cultural walk with our local expert guide, we visit Dornach with wine tasting and lunch with home-made products.


Preferring a customised tour? We can create a tailor-made package with a private guided tour of Dornach and other stations around Salorno. Our in-depth knowledge of the area allows us to plan your ideal experience. Use our experience configurator, to tell us what you would like to see, do, or visit.

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