In 1995, the Dutch entrepreneur Mijndert Pon embarked upon one of his most ambitious projects yet; setting up a winery in the Uco Valley, Mendoza. The goal was to produce wines unlike any other and in doing so, Bodegas Salentein unwittingly transformed the history and geography of the Argentine wine industry for good. 25 years after its inaugural vintage, Bodegas Salentein is one of the most admired Argentine wineries not just in the Uco Valley but in the world. The Uco Valley, which initially seemed not much more than a rocky desert in the Andean foothills when Mijndert Pon discovered it, has become the most exciting wine region in South America.
25 vintages, great wines and more
The realisation of Pon’s dream for Bodegas Salentein over the last quarter-century, has seen more than a thousand hectares of vineyards planted at between 1066 and 1700 metres above sea level. They are divided across four estates in the Uco Valley’s most important subregions: La Pampa and San Pablo (San Pablo GI), El Oasis (Distrito Los Arboles) and El Tomillo (Paraje Altamira GI). During that time, the winery has also played a fundamental role in the declaration of a new Geographic Indication, San Pablo, the highest and most promising terroir in the Uco Valley.
Bodegas Salentein makes terroir-driven wines, using grapes from small vineyards and specific parcels, in a precision driven approach that ensures they express the essence of the Uco Valley in a pure and refined way. Their success is palpable in wines such as Salentein Single Vineyard, Primus and Gran Valle de Uco Blend, which pay homage to their home terroir. The portfolio is rounded out by four other collections: Salentein Barrel Selection, Numina, Salentein sparkling wines – which are market leaders in Argentina – and Alyda Van Salentein, a premium sparkling range.
Meanwhile, Bodegas Salentein – which came ninth in the World’s Best Vineyards 2023 list – attracts 35,000 tourists a year with its marvellous architecture, state-of-the-art winemaking facilities, dramatic barrel room, restaurant, wine bar, art gallery, chapel and boutique hotel. However, the founder’s adult children, Frederike and Ben Pon, only see the winery’s success as an incentive to continue to build the reputation of Argentine wine across the world, fulfilling their father’s dream.
‘Our vision is focused on the future, on the generations to come. We see the past 25 vintages as a foundation for the next hundred years and beyond, taking great pride and satisfaction in our work. As a family, we are grateful to the land, and we continue to invest in vineyards, the latest technology and human capital, which is the most important factor,’ says Frederike Pon, co-owner of Bodegas Salentein.
The future of Bodegas Salentein
It is a well-known fact that in the world of wine, success depends on having a solid, committed working team, something that Bodegas Salentein have built up over the past 25 years. The winery’s dream team is led by the renowned oenologist José ‘Pepe’ Galante, with Jorge Cabeza as head winemaker and Diego Morales – named Viticulturist of the Year in Tim Atkin MW’s Argentina Report 2023 – as chief agronomist. In 2019, Bodegas Salentein began a significant expansion of its vineyards, which will see 320 new hectares planted by 2024, many of them on virgin land that are sure to be the home of the great wines of the future.