'Regionality for me means within a radius of 200 km'
Hannes Durnwalder, owner of the Spezerei in Brand, is now known to everyone in the valley. Although the wine connoisseur who moved from South Tyrol is not a Brandnertaler at all, he feels extremely at home there. But how did it come about that he fell in love with the wild Brandnertal? I find out in a conversation with Hannes - an interview between two South Tyroleans who were both drawn to Vorarlberg.
After studying agriculture with a specialization in viticulture in Vienna, Hannes returned to Kaltern in South Tyrol, where he took over the management of the Erste & Neue Kellerei. You probably wouldn't expect a wine lover like Hannes in the rugged and high-altitude Brand, where vines probably thrive only sparsely. But what could lure a man from Mediterranean South Tyrol to the farthest reaches of Brandnertal more than love? In the course of his work, Hannes first came to the valley at a wine tasting at Brandner Hof, where he raved primarily not about the village but rather about one of its inhabitants.
Almost exactly 14 years ago - at the end of March - Hannes started in South Tyrol at 25°C to Brand, where he was surprised by lightly trickling snowflakes. "The road was getting narrower and narrower, it started snowing - where am I going again?", Hannes asked himself. But the hardships were obviously worth it, because today - 14 years later - Hannes lives happily with his family in Brandnertal and runs two businesses there with his wife. Even though the climate in Brand is not very South Tyrolean-friendly, he feels comfortable: "In the Brandnertal, a lot is offered in a small area. Thanks to the tourist infrastructure, there is a lot to experience, especially for children - from climbing to skiing, tennis and swimming lakes - which of course also benefits the locals." Hannes particularly emphasizes the personal, the homey and the village life in Brand: "The guests also experience this family atmosphere when they come to us".
Hannes and his wife Susi run two businesses in Brand - the Waldchalets Älmele and the Spezerei. "The one where the Spezerei is now inside used to be my father-in-law's garage," says Hannes. If you look closely, you can see the former garage door at the front of the store. Especially in the Spezerei, Hannes is pursuing some interesting concepts, which he gives me a glimpse of during our conversation.
Hannes places a lot of emphasis on regionality, and the South Tyrolean is particularly fond of the Walser people and their products and traditions. The Alemannic ethnic group came from the Swiss canton of Valais to Vorarlberg about 750 years ago and settled there mainly in remote valleys and high valley levels. The people from the Brandnertal are also descendants of the Walser migrations. That's why products from the Walser valleys are mainly to be found in the Spezerei. Rummaging through the shelves, however, I also spot South Tyrolean wines and fine drops from Lake Constance - but what's that all about? "Regional doesn't mean national!", Hannes explains, "from about 200 km airline, the Walsers came to Brand. They came here over passes and valleys - that's why I adopted this radius of 200 km, regardless of borders. The nearest wine-growing region in Austria is 500 km away - wine from Lake Constance or South Tyrol is more regional!".
But his understanding of regionality is not the only concept behind Spezerei. In our conversation, another extremely interesting approach by Hannes reveals itself. If you look around the Spezerei, you'll notice that there is only one large, long table in the middle of the room, as well as a smaller "lookout table," as Hannes likes to call it, by the window. "The guests have to sit together - that's always very interesting to see. This is also how the locals from Brand get to talk to the tourists." Hannes tells us that about half of his guests are locals. That's why he leaves it open in the off-season. What Hannes likes most is the contact with his guests, the different stories they bring with them and their experiences in Brandnertal. "Some have been coming here for 30 years, others are visiting us for the first time," says Hannes, "but the special thing is that the people who come to Brand are looking for a living village community, which we definitely have to offer here. But we also have tourism to thank for this community. There's something here - both for guests and for the people who live here."
Hannes brings people together - across borders and table edges.
A short moment
We prepare the content…