Helena Lageder, Bozen

The 200-year mark is barely missing; born in 1992, you are the sixth generation of the Alois Lageder company. Can you tell us about your life before this important step and where does it start?

Where does this step start from is a good question. I grew up in a family of wine makers, which means that I have lived our philosophy and our approaches since adolescence. Our father has always distinguished very clearly between work and private matters. We were motivated by our parents to follow our interests first and create our own paths.

So I, too, spent ten years following a completely different dream. I moved to England when I was 16 and I finished school there, because it was the only way to dedicate myself to my passions, cinema and theater. Over the years, I studied and worked in cities such as London, New York, Munich and Berlin.

Other than cinema, I have always been very passionate about gastronomy – I approached this world as a young girl through my paternal grandmother. As a student, I collected experiences in various restaurants, working mainly in the kitchen and catering.

In recent years I have tried to be increasingly involved in the company life. For example, I tried to bring our Wine Bar HEL YES! pop-up series also in Berlin. I soon noticed, however, that before managing a team abroad, I should know more about our estate and our wines. During this period my brother Clemens proposed to me to collaborate in the distribution unit. I think it was the fastest decision I’ve ever made in my life. In retrospect, I really had no idea what awaited me. What I am now sure of is that I have a deep passion for wine and for the topics I am surrounded with day by day. I grew up with this passion and therefore this first step has already started unconsciously during my adolescence. I don’t miss anything about my “old life”. The passion for food, wine, nature, creativity and the relationship with people, I still find all of this today in my profession.

We asked other ‘people from this world’ starting to work in the family business about the well-known ‘honors and burdens’, but you recently decided to return to Bolzano and before you represented abroad a unique company in the Italian panorama for its biodynamic approach despite the million bottles produced. 

Can you tell us about your interpretation of the sometimes weighty mix of privileges and responsibilities – towards ancestors, a land and a tradition?

I believe we can speak of “honors and burdens” when it comes to family businesses. As already mentioned, our father left us the decision whether to join the company or not. For this reason there was no obligation to return, but it was a choice. I think we are all aware that it is not always easy to work with the family. On the other hand, it is also the greatest enrichment to be able to represent your own brand and what parents and grandparents have created in the past. 

I am responsible for many foreign markets, for here I see and hear a lot of things. I am convinced that you put a lot more pressure on yourself than you are given. Especially in our company, where we have a certain philosophy and responsibility. It is often not easy to try to follow in the father’s footsteps. Of course, we must not forget that he should not be replaced. Instead, it is a matter of collaborating on projects that, in our case, our father has started and which, after years of attempts, failures and other attempts, can only be carried out today. This is exciting and you can continually reinvent yourself.

Our parents have traveled extensively and collected ideas and inspirations. So we too have learned not to stand still.

Today there are countless wineries, wines, regions, varieties, etc. The consumer has difficulty in orientating due to this enormous choice.

We try to produce wines that reflect our alpine climate in Alto Adige. Wines with freshness and crispness. It is not easy nowadays, especially when dealing with the issue of climate change. On the other hand, this allows us to become creative again and bring liveliness to our wines in a natural way. Thanks to its cultural, geological and microclimatic diversity, Alto Adige offers us a large field of experimentation. Here we play with heights, with new and old vines and also with different winemaking methods in the cellar. A good blend that focuses on innovation without forgetting its roots.

What does Bolzano give you and what do you feel and plan to return to your city?

As Alto-Adige born we have a very close relationship with our homeland. I have always noticed this in conversations with friends abroad who were not so strongly rooted in their origins. However, I never imagined that I would be the first of my group of friends to return to Bolzano. For a long time I also postponed this decision. I finally decided to look for an apartment only in December.

Bolzano is a small city, straight out of an illustrated book. Blue skies and a “mill of voices” always in full swing, because everyone knows everyone. It may therefore happen that you seem to not have enough “anonymity”, as you are used to having in big cities. Through my many travels, however, I have the opportunity to look beyond and constantly expand my horizon. In recent years our small province has developed very well, many creative projects and many lively and forward-looking companies contribute to this.

What Bolzano gives me is nature, tranquility and family.

A book, a song (and a movie, since it’s important to you) that populate your days now?

The song I recently listened to while dancing: Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity.

The song I recently listened to while reflecting: England by The National.

The magazine I recently read at the airport was a copy of the New Scientist.

The TV series I recently saw was the last episode of Money Heist (La Casa de Papel).

A dish and (Lageder) wine at the moment you prefer?

Pizza & Schiava at any time (At Passo del Leone Rosso, slightly chilled).

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

If no one kicks me out, I’ll be right here where I am now.

What have you learned so far in your life? 

Don’t take yourself too seriously… that’s what I’m learning day by day.


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