Durigutti Family Winemakers: preserving history to build for the future 

Planejada desde a sua concepção como um empreendimento 100% sustentável, a Durigutti Family Winemakers goza das qualidades de uma das melhores zonas vinícolas do mundo e é gerida sob uma filosofia ambiental e produtivamente responsável, que não descuida da sua história nem de seu valor social.

Mendoza is one of the world’s viticultural treasures. Among its many terroirs, one of the most interesting is Las Compuertas, a Geographic Indication in Luján de Cuyo where small producers are making extraordinary wines that reflect the exceptional character of the local landscape. Of all the different establishments dedicated to preserving the essence of Las Compuertas, Durigutti Family Winemakers stand out.

Héctor Durigutti, the owner and winemaker, explains: “From the beginning, Durigutti Family Winemakers has been a 100% sustainable project. We always saw it as a holistic, integrated and sustainable project in both hospitality and viticultural terms. In the Las Compuertas region, we have become prominent leaders in re-evaluating and re-positioning this important and historic wine corridor. Our plan is to go out into the world to promote Las Compuertas as a region with an extremely valuable heritage that we are determined to defend. This is our long-term vision, a philosophy of life that has held true since day one, regardless of any certification credentials we may have secured since.” 

Durigutti Family Winemakers and protecting the terroir  

Durigutti Family

Operating since 2002, Durigutti Family Winemakers started out as an export-oriented winery with the United States as their leading market. Today, says Pablo Durigutti, the other sibling owner and winemaker, export and import sales are more or less even. 

“Today, overseas we’re quite well positioned to develop new markets, both in the region, especially Brazil, and across Europe. In Europe we know that sustainability is a strategic bonus, which is why we’re implementing a range of projects that will help us to reaffirm that message.”  

Today, Durigutti Family Winemakers own 34 hectares in Las Compuertas, of which 20 are in production. Finca Victoria – the name of the estate – also contains a significant stretch of native forest. “There, we’re doing a lot of work analyzing the forest soils, and working so that the forest is a part of our conservation plan and aligned with our viticultural and tourism programs. Making sure that the native forest survives and thrives is one of the objectives of our Master Plan.”      

Durigutti Family

The conservation project involves planting on hills and maintaining parts of the native forest from where the winery can also source botanicals for their vermouth. Las Compuertas has a rich ecosystem: in addition to the lush native flora, there’s diverse fauna such as foxes and hares.

“All that is part of the biodiversity. Our working philosophy at the vineyard is to implement sustainable, ecological and regenerative agriculture. We nourish the ancient genetic stock of the vines we find because they’re part of our historical and cultural heritage. We have some very old vineyards, 80 to 100 years old and more. We have vines from 1910 and 1914 that are still producing. We make them under the Proyecto Las Compuertas brand, such as a Malbec from the latter year.

We’re also innovating with other varieties that aren’t traditionally planted in the area as part of our plans to set up our own nursery and work with the ancient genes of these vines and preserve their DNA. We’re also doing a lot of work with native yeasts to better interpret and express the terroir. We’re looking to have our wines express the place more than the variety,” says Pablo.

Héctor Durigutti further explains that the area had been suffering from a loss of vineyards due to urbanization and the proliferation of construction projects. Some of these vineyards are over a hundred years old. Which is why it is so important that Durigutti Family Winemakers defend their land with a preservation and conservation program.

“To us it’s a much bigger challenge because the area is sought after – it’s one of the most expensive vineyard regions in Argentina – and so the real estate value is high. We’re making a great effort to preserve it or have it declared a viticultural reserve; a collaborative project formed in partnership with other landowners in Las Compuertas. Around 2017 and 2018, a small group of local producers came together to promote and improve the area. These partnerships help the owners to cooperate to ensure that the area is preserved,” says Héctor. Thanks to their efforts, the area was indeed officially declared a viticultural reserve about a year ago. 

Durigutti Family Winemakers and the social fabric

Durigutti Family

For Durigutti Family Winemakers the relationship with local producers and neighbors is crucial. They are committed to spreading the word and helping people to understand the value of Las Compuertas. The objective is to put it on the map while also preserving the great oenological quality of the area.   

“We have a very important product that needs taking care of because this corridor produces some exceptional wines. It’s the concept of the small Grand Cru, excellent oenological quality and a historical background that needs to be explained in order to enhance its value in the bottle.”

Because the overall number of bottles produced is low – because production is limited by the capacity of the vineyards – the GI is being promoted collectively.  

With a minimalist archeological project entirely integrated with their environment, Durigutti Family Winemakers have been able to expand their operations to encompass tourism and gastronomy. Both help to build even more ties with the local residents and neighbors. The winery acts as a school that runs all year round for students specializing in subjects such as sommellerie as well as those looking to develop careers in hospitality and gastronomy. Ties such as these, as well as their partnerships with local producers who take their produce from farm to table and local artisans such as those who designed the crockery at the winery and restaurant, make the winery a prominent and active member of the Las Compuertas community.    

The future is organic 

Durigutti Family

In 2021, Durigutti Family Winemakers completed their Letis certification confirming the winery and vineyard as being run organically. That includes the complete Proyecto Las Compuertas where Victoria Durigutti is the flagship wine and the Inframundo line offers natural wines with no added sulfites. In addition, says Carina Valicati, the Director of Marketing and Tourism at Durigutti, the winery habitually takes advantage of programs run by Sustenta Vitis and other support for member wineries and were recently certified in two areas: Waste Management and Energy Efficiency. 

Among other initiatives, the technical team at the winery is implementing a number of protocols that aim to maintain organic production standards: they re-use all the vegetable material at the vineyard, including the off-cuts from pruning and the must, by converting it into compost to feed the vines.     

In addition, they are redesigning the vineyards to improve water efficiency: they have a reservoir of over 7 million liters of water that supplies the drip irrigation of all the new vineyards. The transition from traditional methods is being done especially carefully in the century-old vineyards so that they can withstand the change.  

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