A new winery in Patagonia – in the southernmost vineyards in the Americas - breaks ground in December.
Bodegas y Cavas de Weinert, owned by Brazilian-born entrepreneur Bernardo Weinert, is in the windy, semi-desert province of Chubut – famous for being one of the first boltholes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they fled south at the end of the 19th century.
Slightly further north, in the neighbouring province of Neuquen, the End of the World Cellars was inaugurated a few months ago. Three others are under construction, with the support of local government.
Globe-trotting oenologist Michel Rolland, who has several interests in Argentina, mainly in Mendoza, said, ‘No one today knows what these regions are capable of producing. Planting vines in places like this, where there have never been vineyards, is a big adventure.’
Weinert is enthusiastic. ‘In this region, they grow red fruits, as in Burgundy, but also hops, as in Alsace – two crops which are very sensitive to cold.’
Temperatures in the region fluctuate between minus 8 celsius and 36. The climate is dry, with hot days and cold nights, and Weinert says the grapes are so healthy as to render the use of chemicals almost unnecessary. ‘The grapes are practically organic,’ he said.
Because the region is so far south the summer days are much longer, meaning the grapes have more days of sunshine than further north in Mendoza’s premium grape-growing regions.
As well as this, the area is not subject to extremes of climate, like the hailstorms that regularly ravage Mendoza’s vineyards.
Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies