It's crucial to keep the grapes cool once they've been picked, so they're often brought to the winery in the evening. In this photo, grapes are unloaded at Rutini's winery in the Tupangato Valley in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
The Sorting Table
Sorting Malbec at Renancer. Harvest was about 2 weeks early here.
Vines at Almanegra
The vineyard near Ernesto Catena's Almanegra sparkling wine facility is biodynamic. "When we learned about biodynamics, they coincided with what we were already doing here," said Ernesto Catena. "We always like having animals here, and we learned how important it is. We always had a bad feeling about pesticides. We liked having lots of free space unplanted, with lots of wild plants that can bring nitrogen to the soil."
The view from Ernesto Catena's sparkling wine facility.
Tied with a Bow
At Catena Zapata, this vine is marked for inclusion in the estate's premium bottlings. The vineyards at Catena are picked in multiple passes: a first pass yields grapes that will have bright acidity and lower alcohol, a second will add figgy, black fruit flavors, and a third will have deeper color and more alcohol. Each picking is made into wine separately, and treated differently: some lots of grapes will macerate longer, and some shorter. The finished wine will be carefully blended by the winemaker.
Malbec grapes arrive in bins at Zuccardi.
Merlot Raisins, Anyone?
These grapes at Renancer dry out on these open-air mats until they lose about 30% of their weight and gain figgy, raisiny flavors that enhance Renancer's Amarone-style Enamore.
Drop It In
Bins of fruit are moved onto the sorting table at Bodegas CARO, a collaboration winery from Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) in France and the Catena family.
Sorting at CARO
There's lots of sorting to do.
Concrete Vat at Alta Vista
The sorted grapes are gently moved by gravity into this vat, and gently treated, so the seeds don't break.
Assortment of flaky empanadas at Azafran in Mendoza. They're stuffed with sweetbreads, chorizo, and blood sausage.
Empanadas are baked in this clay oven at Zuccardi.
These little savory turnovers are stuffed with ground beef and sweet onions and fried.
Empanadas de Humitas
These little guys are stuffed with corn, and they're delicious with Catena Zapata's chardonnay.
This old style of planting helps shade the grapes from Argentina's intense sun.
Hail is a big problem in Argentina, and destroy entire harvests. These nets help a bit.
Disgorgement at Alma Negra
Popping the cap on the sparkling wine to get rid of the lees.