Bodega Puerta del Abra in Balcarce: pioneers of a young GI 

Bodega Puerta del Abra

Situated in a new area for viticulture in Argentina, among the Sierras of Tandilia, Buenos Aires Province, and just 30 miles from the South Atlantic Coast, Bodega Puerta del Abra started out in 2013 with a clear mission: to challenge tradition, explore the unknown and provide an alternative to the classical wine regions of the country. 

Bodega Puerta del Abra had to start learning about their terroir from scratch but found that it offers an intriguing combination of qualities: chalky stone, oceanic influence and an exceptional climate. They turned out to be the perfect conditions for varieties such as Tannat, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Bonarda, Riesling, Albariño and Chardonnay. 

Pioneering high end wine production brings with it enormous responsibility, as does introducing vineyards to a new region, so the winery have undertaken extensive research to properly understand the nature of their soils. Guided by the experience of Lydia and Claude Bourguignon, renowned French experts in the recognition and identification of terroirs, they mapped for electroconductivity, took numerous soil samples, and performed chemical and physical analyses to get to know the treasure beneath their feet. Bodega Puerta del Alba are now working with local consultants such as Guillermo Corona in order to parcel out their vineyard. 

Bodega Puerta del Abra and the Balcarce GI: a new destination on the viticultural map

Bodega Puerta del Abra

In 2022, Balcarce was designated a Geographic Indication, an achievement that boosts the region’s identity and also the status of Puerta del Abra as a local leader; it comes as recognition for their innovative spirit and commitment to quality. But, they say, being pioneers wasn’t easy. Puerta del Abra have spent a decade making viticultural history in a place where no one had considered planting vines before. Drawing on local human resources, they had to make the winery a school for teaching, and learning, from the ground up and adapt to an environment that demanded patience and dedication.

“We’re in an area that receives between 800 and 1100 mm of rainfall a year. But even so we have drip irrigation that we use specifically at the end of December and beginning of January because that’s when drought typically hits the area. This is one of the oldest soils in the world, it’s 2.2 billion years old. Our vineyard is literally a valley wedged between sierras,” say Romina Taurisano and Victoria Aguilar, the winery’s representatives. 

A commitment to veganism and sustainability 

Bodega Puerta del Abra

In 2023, Bodega Puerta del Abra achieved vegan certification, a significant landmark in their continuous commitment to sustainability. “The decision to get this accreditation arose after we started to think about the practices we’ve adopted since we opened the winery, which were always along sustainable lines. However, to expand into international markets, we identified a need to get official certification.

We’re currently in the process of implementing Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure that each stage of production lives up to the highest standards for sustainability.”  Taurisano and Aguilar say that their comprehensive approach on certifications reaffirms Bodega Puerta del Abra’s commitment to quality and environmental responsibility in wine production. 

“The vegan seal will consolidate our presence in the market and also highlights our belief in environmentally respectful practices. Since the beginning, we have refrained from using ingredients and clarifiers derived from animals such as gelatine, casein and egg whites, which have historically been used to clarify wine. Our goal is to continue producing quality wines that respect the natural environment on every step of the way, without compromising our oenological standards,” says Delfina Pontaroli, the winery’s oenologist. 

Their drive for sustainability also includes switching to lighter bottles and better waste management. Puerta del Abra sorts its recyclable waste and takes part in Balcarce’s Green Fridays initiative which implements environmentally friendly strategies. An important additional factor is that Bodega Puerta del Abra generates local employment, from manual de-stemming to labelling, strengthening their ties with the Balcarce community. 

Through associations and foundations, they give young people who have recently graduated from high school professional opportunities. “We have a firm bond with the community. We’re a small, high-end winery and we use a lot of manual labor. We decided to hire people from Balcarce, allying with different associations to subcontract staff for different seasons: harvest and packaging. Our philosophy prioritizes teamwork and recognizing and valuing the individual contributions of each person, regardless of gender. We believe in challenging established conventions and encouraging an environment where men and women can contribute their unique skills and perspectives.

That diverse approach enriches our collaborative dynamic and drives us on toward greater innovation and excellence.”   

Research and development: beyond tradition 

Bodega Puerta del Abra

Bodega Puerta del Abra don’t just make wines, they are also heavily involved in research and development. In collaboration with the Universidad de Mar del Plata they say that they decided to explore new native yeasts and above all are always looking for new ways to improve quality. In the short but intense period since they entered the market in 2021, Puerta del Abra have shown that innovation and constant exploration are the concepts upon which their wines are founded. Having won international acclaim and now the Geographic Indication, they’re primed to take on new frontiers.   

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