Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trapiche Winery – Amazing History & Focus on Sustainability in Mendoza, Argentina

Entrance to Trapiche Winery
We received an unexpected invitation to visit Trapiche Winery in the morning before my first seminar, so we were delighted to accept because Trapiche is one of the largest and most famous brands in Argentina. 

The winery is located on the outskirts of Mendoza in an industrial area near the old railroad.  Established in 1883, Trapiche was the first winery to ship their wine to Buenas Aires.

The original brick winery buildings have been lovingly renovated, and now include a wine museum, the original concrete tanks in the cellar, and a beautiful tasting room on the top floor overlooking the gardens and pond in the back.  The railroad tracks still run next to the site.

The front of the property has a 4-hectare biodynamic vineyard. Nearby are cows and sheep that are used to help fertilize the vineyard.  There is also a biodynamic garden with lots of vegetables that employees are allowed to take home for free.  In addition, they have a beautiful olive orchard from which they make and sell oil in the tasting room.

Cement Tanks at Historic Trapiche Winery
We had a tour of the buildings and I was impressed to see they kept the original cement tanks for fermentation, though have a modern barrel cellar.  They also have a tasting room that is open to drop in without an appointment, which is helpful for tourists. Trapiche has 45 employees including a chef.

We met with the marketing and export managers, who confirmed that Penaflor owns Trapiche, the largest wine corporation in Argentina and the 9th largest in the world.  In addition to Trapiche, they have 4 other wineries and more than 50 brands.  They export 60% of their wine, and hope to make Trapiche a global brand. The vision is to be the most admired Argentina Winery. Their largest exports markets are US (#1), Canada, Scandinavia, Germany, and the UK.

I was impressed to learn about their social programs for employees, including investing 5% of all profits in employees, providing education, housing assistance and other efforts that are above and beyond Fair Trade requirements.  They have a program called Farm for Life in which employees are consulted on how the money is invested.

We discussed the peso de-valuation and inflation issues in Argentina, and they admitted that business was challenging because they were receiving 30% less in revenues, but costs were still the same.  The situation is especially difficult for small wineries, but their goal is to hold prices and increase export volume. 

Later we tasted some of the delicious wines of Trapiche, including some of the high-end brand malbecs.  It was like drinking liquid velvet.

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