A place of mystery and wonder, the wine cellar is the one of the most important parts of a winery. Gabriela Raimondo takes a peek into some of the most stunning in Mendoza.
Vistalba Winery – Functioning Elegance
This winery has a strong Mendocino vibe intermixed with avant-garde technology. The cellar has been designed to make full use of gravity and prevent the over use of pumps. It is ve metres underground and built from stone, concrete and metal. A specially designed system maintains cold temperatures and humidity. A long hall is decorated with elegant lamps made from tumbleweed. The cellar is also the tasting room and one wall is actually a cross section of the vineyard, displaying clay, stone and vine roots. The architects are the very famous Eliana Bórmida and Mario Yansón.
Salentein – Architectural heaven
Another Bórmida & Yansón masterpiece, the winery is designed in the shape of a cross to make the wine making process more functional and practical. The focus is placed in the middle of the winery where the four wings converge in the shape of a circle with amazing acoustics. The lowest level has the look of a classic Greek theatre and live, intimate concerts are held here. The cellar is eight metres underground and holds an impressive 5,000 barrels. The stone oor represents the Rose of the Winds with each of its tips pointing to the cardinal points. The winery has three tasting rooms, one with an enormous marble table cut from the one slab of rock. Caution, architecture fans might hyperventilate.
Altavista – Wine Haute Couture
These cellars transport you back in time, to 1899 to be precise when the winery was founded. It is one of the few left with a typical Spanish colonial style since frequent earthquakes in Mendoza have left few buildings from those times. The three cellars and the owners private collection of Alto vintages will make one see everything in black and white. The tasting room is a remodelled concrete tank that used to be full of wine in the not so distant past.
Pulenta – Modern and cool
Another of Bórmida and Yansón’s creations, they stay true to the gravitational method. The hallway that leads to the cellar is worthy of appearing in a Bond movie – cool, slick concrete everywhere and sport car engines as décor. The Pulenta family are represantatives of Porsche in Argentina. The tasting room is in the middle of the cellar and pays homage to the rocks of the mountains and natural materials found in locally. Naturally lit through an outside sky light, the tasting room is surrounded by barrels.
La Rural: An Old Oak Tree
Felipe Rutini founded ‘La Rural’ in 1885. He was a pioneer in the industry in Mendoza. In the 90s the winery was renovated, keeping the balance between tradition and modernity. The wine museum is a must visit stop with over 4500 original exhibit pieces that convey the love and passion felt for the wine making process though out Mendoza’s 500-year history.
Luigi Bosca: The Innovation Mill
Four generations make up the Arizu family. The winery is an old, renovated mill. The cellar is stacked high with barrels and solemnly decorated with religious paintings. Legend has it that the cellar is haunted but many think this is a clever ploy by the owners to prevent unwanted visitors and pilfering. The winery was a pioneer in taking oak from unorthodox places like Hungary and China. Wine tastings are held inside an old concrete tank where one can imbibe, literally, the tradition and history of the place.
Bodegas CARO: Underground Bliss
A joint venture between Catena Zapata and the La te Rothschild family brings the Old and New Worlds together with a mix of tradition and innovation. Located in the city, CARO winey is quick and easy way to immerse oneself in Mendoza’s wine culture. The winery was built in 1884 but has since been remodelled with one of the oldest cellars in the province. The oak barrels amidst vaulted ceilings of exposed brick is a sight to behold. It is one of the few wineries that do visits at night andit is no small detail that the world renowned Francis Mallmann restaurant is right next door.
Benegas Winery: Concrete Dreams
The winery was built in 1901 and had an enormous capacity as most wineries from that time did. Federico Benegas Lynch bought it in 1999 and remodelled it to produce high quality wine. The Benegas family have been involved in the wine- making industry in Mendoza for over 100 years. Probably one of the most beautiful cellars in Mendoza, it can hold 1,200 barrels. It is eight metres underground and the old design is perfect to maintain the required temperature and humidity for the wine. The tasting room is an old concrete tank once full to the brim with wine. The museum upstairs showcases wine technology since the 19th century and a collection of genuine Indian ponchos.
Club Tapiz: Art and Wine
Club Tapiz wine lodge is a perfect blend of art, history and wine. The estate was founded in 1890 and it is surrounded by 14 hectares of olive trees and vineyards. The old winery has been remodelled with an amazing mural by local star artist Sergio Roggerone. You can also visit the olive oil house and sparkling wine cellars that are remodelled concrete tanks.
O. Fournier: Space Odyssey
This state-of-the-art winery is mind-blowing in terms of architecture and design. The cellar is one of the most impressive in Mendoza. Another one of Bórmida and Yansón masterpieces, the cellar is enormous and experienced by walking on suspended platforms. The use of natural light in the shape of a cross is incredible to see from both the outside and inside.
Kaiken: Feng Shui Vibes
This is one of the most original cellars in Mendoza. The Montes family are very well-known in Chile and this is their Luján de Cuyo operation. This remodelled gem in the middle of Vistalba has an unique way of aging the wine through playing Gregorian chants. The cellar has its very own Guardian Angel that is also present on every Montes Label. Like many wineries they have recycled the use of old concrete tanks in their underground levels to store and age barrels.
Weinert Bodega and Cavas: Wine Folklore
The traditions and customs of tonnellerie are well and alive at Weinert. They re-use the old oak casks by cleaning the inside every time they age the wine. The incredible smell of the casks transports one to simpler times. The secret passages within the cellars could be used in a thriller. At the end of the visit one can taste the best wines from vintages as old as Estrella 1977.