The mountains of Gualfin are a force to be reckoned with. The local tribes fought hard to hold their mountain fortress here – first against the invading Incas and then against the Spanish conquistadores. In fact, the first fierce Spanish attack was rebuffed by the harshness of the terrain and the tenacity of the indigenous peoples. It took another 100 years to finally bring the valley under Spanish control.
Even today, the extremity of the conditions at Gualfin ensures the survival of only the fittest — or perhaps the boldest.
Wine cultivation at such high altitude and in such harsh conditions was a bold move, no doubt about it. But the Gualfin vineyards flourished, bearing grapes on mountains that have seen thousands of years of cultivation. Suffused with the legend of the land, they produce a wine that wins the palate with a strength of character born out of the fight for survival itself.
Sustaining themselves on just a trickle of pure mountain water, Gualfin’s grapevines get full sun almost every day of the year. And every day, the temperature drops at night, causing the individual grapes to protect themselves with thick skins. It is here where the rich flavors are concentrated. And this is the reason that high altitude Malbec wine is so intense.
Under the harsh northern Argentine sun, the skins grow thicker to protect the precious juice — a juice with more body and flavor than that of grapes cultivated in less extreme environments.
But that is not all. The dry, rocky soil causes the plants to put down deep roots, literally sucking out moisture from the limestone rocks beneath the surface. And with the water they also get minerals that further strengthen the flavor of the wine.
The vineyards at Gualfin are among the highest in the world, situated at more than 8,400 feet (2,567 meters) above sea level. Towering high above Argentina’s adjoining Salta wine valley, they’re the jewel of the Calchaqui Valley.
The ranch, at 200,000 hectares, is larger than any contiguous private property in the entire United States — and the grapes that grow there are just as exceptional. Thriving at a daringly high altitude, they produce a truly extraordinary wine.
This is a wine that truly veni, vidi, vici. It won the mountains over. It won owners Bill and Elizabeth Bonner over. They think it’ll win you over, too. The response to a few test bottles was clear: friends and family members were clamoring for more of “that wonderful Argentine wine.”
Their call was heard, and in 2016, Gualfin Vineyards was born.