Auenerhof: Secret Gourmet Mountain Retreat

Gisela and Heinrich Schneider, sister and brother, have created something difficult to find: an authentic, essential mountain experience with elegance and epicurean flair. The ten-room hotel with a small spa gives guests privacy but also a feeling of familial hospitality. The property has been in their family for generations (more below).

Its center is the Terra restaurant with almost all glass walls to bring Nature in. Gisela is the sommelier. Heinrich is the chef.

The signature meal at Terra is the nine-course tasting menu featuring local food with natural ingredients from the mountains like clover, chickweed, elder flower, pine oil, seabuckthorn, violet and wild caraway root. The meal is served on handmade pottery dishes made locally.

1: Potato with Wheatgrass

1 cont’d: Herb Filled Raspberry Leaves

2: Burned Carrot with Yarrow and Flowers

3: Local Grayling Fish (Glazed) with Moss and Brown Fennel

4: Local Free-Range Egg with White Fish, Caviar and Dried Spring Morrels

5: Tortellini stuffed with local cheese, pine powder and barley

6: Pike Perch with Wheatgrass

Palate Clearing Terra “Tea”

7: Aged Local Beef Flavored with Salorno Black Peat, Mashed Sunflower Seeds and Chickweed

8: Sixtus-Beer Ice Cream with Ryebread and Caramel

9: Violet-Clowes Ice Cream with Curd and Pistachio Sponge

Ending: Sweets with Candyfloss and Flowers

The wine cellar is above the restaurant and has a full listing of local and international wines.

I paired the first courses with Peter Pliger’s Kuenhof Sylvaner 2013
(photo from my archive)
The later ones, with Foradori Granato 2010

And the desserts with Haderburg Hausmannhof 2004

Breakfast the next morning was another feast for the senses. It featured local speck, homemade bread, jams and pastries, local honey, yogurt, and cheese, and organic fruit juices. It is served at the table. No breakfast buffet!

I had a luscious cappuccino, but there was a wide choice of teas.

The Auenerhof is in a stunning location. Miles of hiking and cross country ski trails leave from the hotel.
Sarantino copy

Driving north out of Bolzano/Bolzen in Alto Adige/Südtirol, the road winds through tunnels and past stunning vistas to the village of Sarntal/Sarentino (also the name of the valley). Then, for another 8 km (5 mi), it twists and turns through a long, open meadow alternating with dense pine forest.

This view from my room, looking down toward the village gives a sense even though it was raining and the view of the valley was blocked.

The meadow was once a ski trail that descended from the Sarner Ski Hut to the village. Gisela and Heinrich’s grandfather, Johann Brugger, built both the trail and the hut with proceeds from his timber business. In those days, villagers climbed to the top of the hill with skins on their skis and groomed the trail by stomping on it.

Gisela’s and Heinrich’s mother, daughter of Johann, helped out with the timber business and worked in the Ski Hut, where she met their father. After they were married, they built the Auenerhof right next door and first opened it as a rustic inn with no electricity. In 1998, Gisela and Heinrich returned home from studies and work abroad with the idea of creating the Auenerhof as it is now.

The Auenerhof rooms are in a clean mountain style with lovely views…

I would like to go back to enjoy the spa, the hiking and the skiing.
The Merano2000 Ski Area is just over the hill toward Merano with many other ski areas nearby.
The Auenerhof has a guide for all levels of skiing experience.
For more info and photos, view the hotel website or write to Gisela.

+39 0471 62 30 55

Member of Relais and Chateau
Terra: Michelin Star

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