If something puts a smile on your face every time you think of it…if this same something is exciting to talk about…if it would be a dream come true and it was within reach would you take it? But, what if it would cause a complete lifestyle change…it may never make any profit and would be a huge risk…would you still take it?
The idea of owning a vineyard was more of a retirement thought for later in life until O’Fournier brought up the idea as a real possibility. Since then, we have not been able to get the concept out of our heads! Although we were seriously wined, dined and romanticized by the owner Jose Manuel…like any purchase we needed to look at other options. If we are really considering buying a vineyard in Argentina…are we looking at a competitive price and a quality grape?
The Vines of Mendoza is another company out here offering investors to purchase 3-10 acres of vines on their 1500 acre property. Today they invited us onto their vineyard…they were harvesting grapes. We were a bit late when we arrived but eventually found them down a dirt road in the middle of the vines. Let me paint the scene for you…the sun was shining, the air was perfectly warm, the picturesque mountains stood strong in the background and the grapes were plump and begging to be picked from the vine. As soon as we arrived, they greeted us, gave us gloves, garden shears and a bin. We walked between the vines in the dirt with smirks on our faces, and started clipping those beautiful grapes until our bin was full.
We loaded our bin of grapes onto the truck and stopped to take a group picture with the other grape pickers (and potentially new vineyard owners) before heading up to the warehouse where the grapes would go through the de-stemming machine. The grapes are poured into the top of the machine and then the stems are taken away from the fruit, emptied into one bin as the grapes flow through the machine where someone hand picks any stems that were missed or grapes that don’t look good. We all gathered around the conveyor belt to help remove the unwanted stuff while letting the perfect fruit pass by.
The owners took the small group of us through the warehouse to show where the wine barrels were being stored and the small office in which they experiment by mixing and matching different varietals. Once the warehouse tour was complete, they moved us onto the outdoor patio and opened a few bottles of wine to have us taste the results of hard-work put into a bottle. After wine tasting and mingling, we went over to the part of their property which was under construction. There was a sign showing what the layout will eventually look like, private estates, spa and resort. Hmmmm…we could even live on the wine property…very tempting!
For lunch we all gathered around a long wooden table that easily sat about 30 of us. They were treating us to a classic asado (BBQ)…plates were made of wood, like little individual cutting boards which were perfect for all the meats being served. As if we were one large family…the platters of food of all sorts but definitely focused on meat kept coming around, and we all talked and ate outside in the middle of the vineyard drinking its wine.
We had gone to this vineyard to learn about their ownership program and to maybe talk ourselves out of this whole lifestyle change, but as we left…we were even more excited. We had so much fun actually picking the fruit and watching it go through the process. Then to taste the final product, eat local food and socialize with other wine lovers from around the world made us think about our vineyard dream just a little bit more…
Over the past couple days we spent a lot of time lounging around on the B&B property…making food, catching up on our blogging and staring out at the vines, There was also the cutest little puppy who decided to make himself at home in our room.
Of course, we also spent time drinking wine but also visited Michel Rolland’s property. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Michel…he is one of the best known names in the wine industry, a world-renowned wine influence. He owns vineyard properties in many places including France (which is where he’s from), Argentina, South Africa and Spain. He has a specific style and through his consultation, helps 100s of clients achieve oak influenced and fruit-heavy wines. Just by putting his name on a bottle of wine…will help sell it.
In Argentina, we saw his vineyard, Clos de los Siete was nearby right in Uco Valley so drove over without an appointment in hopes to taste a few of his wines. Vineyards always seem to have the most beautiful landscapes and this one was no different…with about 2100 acres of planted vines sitting on the foothills of the Andes mountains…it was gorgeous. We parked and were greeted by a women who agreed to give us a tour of two of the five wineries that were on the property. Basically Michel got together with 6 of his friends and they each divided the vines to make five wineries. Each owner runs their own winery and wine making but all contribute some of their fruit to put into one bottle of wine called, Clos de los Siete.
The property was so large that we needed to drive through the dirt roads between vines to get to the two wineries we were touring. The tour guide jumped in our backseat and directed us to the first stop, Cuvelier Los Andes. The wineries themselves here in Mendoza are so dramatic in both size and technology with amazing architecture. She gave us a quick walk through pointing out the fermenting tanks, and barrel rooms before getting us over to our second winery, Diamandes
The Diamandes uses a gravity system (most of winery is underground) and technology to keep things like temperature control efficient. Even though the soil looks rocky/sandy, the altitude is high and the weather is extreme…this family found their “diamond” in the rough because the wine region of the Valley de Uco produces some of the best wine in Argentina (in our opinion anyway). The tour guide talked through the architecture (same as the O’Fournier building) as well as the specific process followed from picking grapes to fermenting.
After our tour, we drove back to the guest building where we picked out a couple of wines to purchase, one being the wine made from all properties (Clos de los Siete) and one of Michel Rolland’s nice (and expensive) bottles for our wine cellar. We drove back to our place to find some dinner and get things packed up since we are leaving for a different part of Mendoza tomorrow.
Trying to speak in another language is already challenging enough but when you need something very specific like jumper cables because the headlights on the car were left on all night…it brings a whole new element to the conversation!
After hand gestures, body gestures, pointing and random Spanglish…we finally got our point across to the staff at our B&B that our car battery was dead and needed a jump. The owner sent someone over to our car and got us up and running. The car trouble made our day run very late but eventually we got to Andeluna Cellars.
The Andeluna property was vast and beautiful with vines spread in every direction. We waited only a few minutes before our tour of the vineyard began. The guide walked us through the facility, showing us the room full of steel tanks used to ferment their wine as well as their room of oak barrels. We asked questions and took pictures before she led us back out to the main area for a taste of their final product.
Instead of the standard tasting, we decided to purchase their multi-course lunch which came with a different glass of wine per course. We sat outside on the patio with a clear view of the vines on one side and the big open kitchen on the other. Does it get any better than this?
The menu consisted of 6 courses and each one was served with a different house made-bread. We started with a fresh salad, followed by trout, then pasta, then beef, a pallet cleanser and finally strawberry frozen yogurt with mint. We thoroughly enjoyed each course, glass of wine and atmosphere…our little two-top table was packed with food and glasses and we left feeling very satisfied. We purchased some of their wine of course and then went back to our place for the evening.
For dinner, we made a salad from the farmers market veggies we had picked up and some bruschcetta. It was nice to lounge around and relax in the vines of our B&B. We did after all have a very busy day eating and drinking…