The hillsides above Lana surround the approach to Ultental. The land inclines steeply as if to greet the gently rolling mountain landscape of South Tyrol. A path lined with cypress trees leads the visitor to Greiterhof and presents a feast for the eyes, a panoramic view of Passeiertal on the Ifinger above Meran, across Etschtal right over to the Weisshorn and the Schwarzhorn. This is where Clemens Margesin’s story begins. After completing training, he joined the farm in 1991 and, together with his father, they switch to organic farming four years later.
Shortly after that, Clemens made another good life decision, he marries Johanna. They move to the nearby town of Tscherms and are soon a family of four when their children Jakob and Katharina, enter the picture. Clemens remains a passionate organic farmer to his core. And in 2003 the time is ripe for him to take over the farm.
Two years pass. Greiterhof’s fruit orchards fall victim to apple proliferation disease. This arboreal disease causes the apple trees to grow long shoots and the apples fail to ripen. What can be done? Nobody knows. At the time, farmers and the fruit industry had little experience of this disease. Clemens and Johanna struggle. Finally, there is no option left but to lift each affected tree, one-by-one, and replant the orchard. A huge challenge for the young family, emotionally, physically and financially. Their optimism keeps them going. The orchards grow steadily and over the years they gradually get on top of the situation.
“The farmer and his family belong on the farm.”
“The farmer, the farmer’s wife and their family belong on the farm,” says Johanna. Decisive words and a good decision. They look after their “entailed estate”, which has been in the Margesin family’s possession since 1806, with sensitivity and discretion. Everything that is worth preserving is retained and maintained. The stone walls, the windows with rounded frames, the 200-year old grape vine climbing the building and the medieval cellar. But there’s still space for new ideas and local environmentally compatible materials complement the historic foundations of the buildings. “Moving onto our own farm with the family was one of the most wonderful moments of my life. It felt like coming home,” says Clemens. The corners of his mouth turn up, his eyes sparkle. An optimist who has fulfilled his lifelong dreams.
The family shifts the business of the farm into key areas. Clemens invests most of his time in fruit and wine production. His son proves to be a kindred spirit, Jakob is an enthusiastic oenologist and loves the work in the vineyards and cellars. Johanna returns to a passion from her youth, welcoming holiday guests to the farmstead. She has an outstanding talent for hospitality. As the farm is modified and renovated, she applies her expertise to bring the new holiday apartments up-to-date and up-to-scratch. “Farmstead Holidays” becomes the third pillar on which the business of Greiterhof is based. The guests come from all over the world and get to enjoy the farm’s products and apple-based dishes from the farm’s kitchen. Nobody can resist the homemade “Apple Tiramisu in a Jar” served up by Johanna and her daughter Katharina. Now the farmstead even attracts guests with a very special addition to the estate, a wooden house with sprucewood walls and made entirely without metal nails.
With their positive attitude, a great deal of sweat, a few tears along the way and brave investments, the family has overcome all challenges to bring new life to Greiterhof. A fully organic life, the philosophy forms the basis of the diversity of their apple varieties - the Margesins grow ten varieties. From classics such as Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Braeburn and Granny Smith through special club varieties like Pink Lady® and Kanzi® to rare varieties such as Bonita and Gold Rush. Because individual taste is as varied as life itself.