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Bringing in Merlot and Malbec in Argentina

The Merlot and Malbec harvests have begun for Santiago Achával in Argentina.
2009 Southern Harvest Winemakers
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Posted: Mar 9, 2009 3:40pm ET

By Santiago Achával

Posted by Santiago Achával

We’re on!

On Friday night we were still working on the selection tables. Today we picked our Finca Bella Vista. Some of it will be our 2009 Finca Bella Vista Malbec; some will be part of our Quimera blend, but every block is tasting great!

It all started Tuesday morning. We spent the day walking the vineyards and tasting grapes. Making plans to start on Wednesday. Two teams of harvesters for our 20 acres of Merlot in Tupungato, total of 50 people. Twenty more at the winery for unloading harvest cases and sorting. It was all coming together in that crazy way that is always so full of tension. But then an overcast sky turned colder, and it started to rain.

Stop that rain people! We went out to the Merlot when it did stop. We decided that on Wednesday, harvest was a no. Not a huge no, as in wait a week, but a no nonetheless. Back home, we lit a fire, bought some carne, opened a bottle of vino and waited. You’ve heard that word "mañana," haven’t you?

Wednesday delivered one of those Mendoza miracle days. Clear skies, deep blue without a cloud. The luminosity you only get at 3,200 feet of altitude in a desert climate. And a north-easterly breeze that had us back in the Merlot vineyard by early afternoon, checking it out. It was a go! No water intake into the grapes, dry leaves, dry bunches, dry vineyard floor.

So Thursday we brought it in—30 tons of great tasting Merlot!

For those of you that share the number curiosity: 26 Brix, 3.5 pH for the Merlot; 24.5 Brix and 3.55 pH for the Malbec.

So between yesterday and today, 66 tons! Our team is dead on its feet. We worked the Merlot until 1 a.m. It’s 9 p.m. now, and by my guess, we still have a couple of hours to go today. Everybody was thankful tha we don’t harvest on weekends.

Sorting Merlot at Achával-Ferrer.
And we’re all so happy! It’s the beginning of the harvest. It’s the end of weather worry for the Merlot and the Finca Bella Vista. It’s a whole year of dreams and hopes coming home to nest. It’s the yearly reminder of our creative capacity. It’s the reaffirming of the commitment to winemaking.

People, join us in this! I like to share this, because it grows in sharing. And my choice of this life makes even more sense when I write about it. And by the way: It’s a great way to spend my 48th birthday!

Abrazo to all, and talk to you soon!

Steve Kirchner
Huntington —  March 9, 2009 6:08pm ET
feliz cumpleanos :) i celebrated mine (3/3) with an 04 finca mirador. thanks - your hard work pays off.
Santiago Achaval
March 9, 2009 9:27pm ET
Steve:I pulled the cork on a 1964 (not my year, I'm 1961)Gaja Barbaresco that Roberto Cipresso brought in his suitcase. Out of this world! That's one beautiful aspect of wine: it's celebratory power.Abrazo, and GO PISCIS!Santiago
Steve Wilson
Houston,Texas —  March 10, 2009 7:07pm ET
I was lucky enough to visit the winery last year and saw the hard work that is put into your fabulous wines. From Quimera 2002 to Finca Altamira 2005 (that are still waiting in my cellar) and not to forget your wonderful olive oil, everything you do is with passion and it shows. If anyone out there is in Argentina the Achaval-Ferrer winery is a must visit. Please, Santiago, keep making those great wines.

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