In 1845, Benedictine monks moved from Muri in Switzerland to Gries in South Tyrol, where the order took over the Augustinian monastery. In doing so, they inherited a long tradition of wine growing, which they nurtured in the spirit of a symbiosis of monastery, winery, and estate that remains very much in evidence.
Today, Muri-Gries is still run by the Benedictines and remains a working monastery. While the monks now dedicate their time to spiritual practice, Christian Werth and his family make the estate’s wines from 35 hectares of vineyards. Christian makes all of the varietals expected of the region but has a particularly sharp focus on the native grape, Lagrein. Hailing from vines planted in the 1930s, the estate’s Lagrein pays homage to the winery’s roots. The Oxford Companion to Wine claims that the grape’s first plantings were within the convent.