Diversity, originality of grape stocks character and optimum agro-ecological conditions are some of the features that make Argentina one of the most attractive locations in the world to produce top quality wines. One of the most important strengths of this distinctly continental viticulture is the harmonious combination of three fundamental pillars: climate, soil and grape stock. A wide range of grape varieties planted on more than 210,000 hectares, vineyards have adapted and reached their full expression, thus they offer the market memorable examples of the classical varieties.
Besides, a range of other grape stock varieties are being rediscovered and improved. Others are going to be “pearls” grown on Argentine soil in the next years.
Snow covers the picks and covers the vineyards.
This is time for pruning, another reason to walk through the vineyard and prepare it for a new productive cycle. Pruning IS a vital agronomic practice to guide the development of the crops and to plan its future production. “Qualified” workers use scissors to prune plants. The sarmientos (the portion of the stem that is cut) are used for oven fires or to generate new vines in the nursery where the plants are reproduced.
Since the vine is a climbing plant, a conducting system is necessary to orient the growth of the buds. Therefore, the workers attach the branches with wires after pruning. It stabilizes them and classifies the future distribution of bunches in order to improve their exposure to the sun.
The vineyard, with the imposing background of the mountains, is an astonishing landscape of the greater part of western Argentina. This region, with its characteristic desert climate, has been transformed into a fertile oasis due to man's labor. Thus, all year round the vineyards scene is tinted with the colors furnished by nature and its people.
Each season, when the vine cycle starts, a new design emerges defining the lines of wines according to the winery goal. It is based on the vineyard, the climate and the soil where the grape stock is implanted and the cultural techniques employed. A great wine is the result of a carefully tended vine, because without an excellent raw material it is impossible to obtain an excellent wine.
In March harvest ends and autumn starts.
Then the vineyard flaunts its yellow and red hues. The plant needs to recover its nutrients and, as a result, the farm workers till the land to clean the furrows and oxygenate the soil.
The plows are frequently seen traveling among the rows of vines. On small farms, horses also contribute to the scene.
It is time for love and brilliant colours.
In September, with the first buds the vine starts a new rhythm. It is time to work the soil for an easy irrigation and to remove weeds. It is approximately in October that the vineyard worker sharpens his sight to assure that the buds are well illuminated. Consequently, it is necessary to strip leaves carefully to improve ventilation of the plants and to keep a healthy vineyard. If necessary, some small immature bunches are removed for concentrating the strength of the vine on the smaller fruits. In this way one may obtain more expressive and full-bodied wines.
During spring and the first months of summer, it is September to December, irrigation is systematized to give the plant only the necessary water for its development.
Time for Christmas and to start harvest efforts.
A fascinating moment: the alchemy of the bunch is translated into color. The white grapes transform from yellowish green to gold and the incipient red grapes are tinted with sparkling blacks, blues and violets shades.
Everything is ready for the vintage. The white grapes are the first to harvest, during late January, while the harvest of red ones will last till the beginning of April. The "Fiesta de la Vendimia" (the Vintage Feast) has its natural scenario among the rows of vines. Men and women, with scissors and hats, carefully gather the fruit matured by the sun. These bunches, already announcing the new wine, are transported from the vine to the winery. The celebration continues at the wine presses and tanks. But the vineyard will be at rest. Later, when the process finishes, it comes the tasting, that is the final results of this very hard work. And all will start again to the next harvest.