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Vines of Mendoza: Wine lovers becoming winemakers

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All of us are enthralled by the intricate chemistry and elusive magic which is wrapped up in a bottle of wine, yet it is unlikely many of us will be afforded the opportunity, or time, to get mud and must under our fingernails actually creating that decisive link in the chain that runs from vineyard to glass.

The Vines of Mendoza has been forging such connections and turning wine lovers into winemakers since 2007, when the first vines belonging to its Private Vineyard project were planted on its estate in the high desert of Mendoza’s Uco Valley at the foothills of the rising Andes.

The enterprise now extends to over 600ha of vineyards divided into more than 230 plots ranging from one to four hectares in size and which are home to in excess of 30 varietals, each overseen by non-professional wine fanatics who have moulded from the ground up their very own winemaking venture. It’s an intoxicating model which engages you at every stage, from the initial, base concept of your vision, through each step of vinification, blending and finishing with the detailing of your label, plus even distribution if desired.

The first decision is whether to plump for a parcel of established vines or strip it back to the bare bones and begin with untouched earth. If it’s the latter then in conjunction with Vines of Mendoza’s agronomists you choose whichever grape you have your heart set on growing and do so. Cabernet Franc and Malbec are the stars here, but with varieties as esoteric as Uva di Troia, Negroamaro and Mencia already accepted, it’s unlikely your pet project will encounter any teething problems.

From this point on, the level of your involvement in the wine’s journey is decided upon by you. You may have in mind what your final wine is supposed to represent and taste like and then leave everything in the hands of the winemaking team (although you will receive ongoing progress reports detailing the harvest and the maturation of your cuvée).

At the opposite end of the spectrum you can immerse yourself every step of the way, from planting and pruning, to harvest, sorting and punch downs to the final blend. All of this takes place in a playground of world class facilities and with access to the similarity stellar talent of Vines of Mendoza, which includes among its number Santiago Archával, one of Argentina’s most decorated and renowned winemakers.

Via guided tutorials and workshops you will cement plans for canopy management, yields, maceration times, fermentation techniques and ageing: steel or barrel, for how long and what level of toast if it’s the latter.

Beyond the theory, harvest time sees you picking your own fruit prior to separating the wheat from the chaff on the sorting table, then your bespoke vinification timetable clicks into gear. Once that’s over with you can return and dive into the blending sessions to add the finishing touches to your showpiece.

Crafting your very own wine from its very genesis ranks as the stuff of dreams, but this is one stretched out over many, many months if not years which, at least, provides you ample opportunity to crack the hardest task of them all: what are you going to call it?

For more information visit: www.vinesofmendoza.com


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