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Chilean Winery Buys 700 Acres in Patagonia

Purchase by VC Family Estates is first major foreign investment in Argentina's up-and-coming region

James Molesworth
Posted: October 23, 2008

Chilean-based VC Family Estates (formerly Viñedos y Bodegas Córpora) has just completed a purchase in Patagonia. The sale includes the Bodega Universo Austral winery and more than 700 acres of vineyards, which straddle both the Neuquén and Rio Negro provinces, for a cost of $15 million.

VC Family Estates, which produces the Veranda, Agustinos, Gracia de Chile and Porta lines, is the first Chilean producer to invest in Patagonia. With the allure of old-vine vineyards and low labor and production costs, Argentina's best-known wine region, Mendoza, has long attracted foreign investment. It was only a matter of time before Patagonia started drawing interest as well.

Jorge Goles, CEO of VC Family Estates, said the purchase is part of his company's continuing efforts to spread into cooler-climate areas, focusing on varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

"First was Bío Bío and now you cross the Andes and you have Patagonia," said Goles, referring to his company's investment in the extreme southern region of Chile. "We have made wines [in Patagonia] in 2007. Quality is amazing and we were touched by the finesse and complexity of the wines, so we decided to buy."

The new investment includes 617 acres of vines in the newer Neuquén province, which has only been producing wine since 2000, along with 125 acres of Malbec and Pinot Noir in the Rio Negro province (including some 60-year-old vines). Rio Negro is located to the east, and has a more established history of wine production.

Winemaker Pascal Marchand, formerly of Comte Armand and Domaine de la Vougeraie in Burgundy, will oversee production of two brands at the Neuquén facility, Calafate and Chalten. Goles also plans to add a boutique-size winery facility in the Rio Negro area for smaller-production wines.

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