20 fun facts about El Porvenir de Cafayate to mark 20th anniversary

It’s not every day an Argentine winery turns 20 but the lovely hook at El Porvenir de Cafayate is that the Calchaquí Valley-based bodega can draw from a centenary past as well as a contemporary 21st-century story. Here are 20 fun facts about El Porvenir de Cafayate to mark its anniversary that winery director Lucía Romero Marcuzzi has shared with Come Wine.

The winery in downtown Cafayate.

1. After taking over the centenary premises of the Cafayate winery, one of the first tasks for El Porvenir de Cafayate’s team was restoring 50 year-old Torrontés and Tannat vineyards. 

2. The first grapes to be picked were Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in 2002; there are still a few bottles of each in the winery’s historic cellar. 

3. Vineyards are located between 1,750 and 2,000 metres above sea level in the province of Salta, a beautiful northwest corner of Argentina.

4. The first Tannat went on sale under the Laborum name in 2003 and the first Torrontés in 2004, and while they were tough to sell them then, today they are the winery’s flagship vintages. 

5.  Spanish winemaker Maria Isabel Mijares led the first five harvests at El Porvenir. A notable oenologist in Europe, after studying in France she returned to her homeland to become the first female winemaker to lead a bodega in Spain. 

6. Between 2002 and 2005 the winery made a Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon blend for Laborum and although it is no longer made, a few out are still on the market today. 

7. In 2008 El Porvenir planted Malbec and Chardonnay at its most prestigious vineyard, the terraced Alto Los Cuises. It took almost 10 years to balance the land before producing Malbec from that terroir. Chardonnay was cultivated to make sparkling wine but the bodega team liked its character so much, they made a still wine. Both, in particular the Malbec, have received the highest scoring points from critics. 

Finca Alto Los Cuises.

8. Between 2010 and 2018, Paul Hobbs joined the team as consultant winemaker and it was the first and only time that he has worked in Cafayate.

9.  In 2012, Lucía Romero Marcuzzi, third generation of her family to run a winery, completed her Wine MBA in Bordeaux and aged just 30, took charge. 

10. Part of the joy of winemaking, according to Lucía, is experimenting on new terroir. In 2011, they planted nine hectares of Malbec now called Finca Alto Río Seco at the foot of Sierra del Cajón, in front of the Finca Río Seco, which was planted 11 years earlier. Despite the close proximity given that they are separated by just a road, there are notable differences in the Malbecs from each vineyard.

11. The most recent vineyard to be cultivated has just two hectares of Cabernet Franc, Garnacha and Mourvèdre at the foot of the mountain in Finca Piedramonte in 2019. 

12. Including Finca Piedramonte, there are five vineyards in total: Finca El Retiro, Finca Río Seco, Finca Alto Río Seco and Finca Alto Los Cuises.

13. Finca El Retiro is the oldest finca and is just a few blocks from the centre of Cafayate.

14. If you visit the stunning colonial property located there, hopefully you’ll luck in and get to try the tiny and delicious empanadas made by house chef Carmén. 

15. El Retiro also hosts the only pergola-trained vineyard on the estate.

16. Winemaker Paco Puga joined the team in 2016; Mendoza-born agricultural engineer Daniel Guillén followed suit a year later. 

17. The latest line Pequeñas Fermentaciones or Small Fermentations takes a fresh look at winemaking and includes a skin-contact orange Torrontés as well as a Bonarda that has underground carbonic maceration. 

18. Besides wine, El Porvenir also produces extra virgin olive oil made with 90 percent Arbequina and 10 percent Manzanilla and Arauco varieties, the first from Cafayate. 

19. Visitors to Cafayate can take a short tasting tour of the centrally located winery, which retains traditional agricultural machinery in the open-air museum. 

20. If you’re in Cafayate for a few nights, live like the Romero family and book a room at Finca El Retiro. 

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