Fueled by hot desert days and cool nights, both protected and nourished by the majestic snow-capped Andes to the west, Mendoza province in western Argentina is a fertile utopia for producing world class grapes that insure world class wines.
Robert Parker Jr. predicts…
“Malbec will make it big. By the year 2015, the greatness of Argentinean wines made from the Malbec grape will be understood as a given. This French varietal has reached startling heights of quality in Argentina. Both inexpensive, delicious Malbecs and majestic, profoundly complex ones from high elevation vineyards are already being produced, and by 2015 this long-ignored grape’s place in the pantheon of noble wines will be guaranteed.”
With the strength of the dollar rising against the Argentine peso, (the US Dollar against the Argentine Peso is 25% stronger today than in 2007) many people are starting to question why exactly they should not resettle here, where the leisurely days are filled with lots of sunshine, siesta, and friendly Latin neighbors who greet you with a hug and a kiss, and laugh with you, not at you, when you do not speak the language well. Nights can be spent watching endless stars in the unpolluted sky and enjoying a newly discovered bottle of mouth-watering local Malbec or Syrah. There is a strong ex-patriot community currently living throughout the region that is already taking full advantage of the good life, whose only regret is wishing that they had packed their bags and moved here sooner.
Tom and Yvonne Phelan, wine lovers originally from California, could not believe the opportunity that Argentina offered when they came to visit Buenos Aires two years ago. A short vacation turned into the Phelans pursuing a lifelong dream of developing small (2 to 10 hectare) boutique vineyards available at a reasonable price for fellow wine lovers. San Rafael, population 170,000, soon became the obvious choice for location, blending a cosmopolitan downtown with a rural countryside which reminds one of Napa Valley fifty or sixty years ago. The Phelans acquired an amazing 108 acre piece of property only thirteen kilometers from the bustling city center, but surrounded completely by old growth apricot, quince, plum and peach orchards, ensuring the silence and tranquility that they envisioned for their future vineyard owners. This area of Argentina is a wine-makers paradise, because the combination of low humidity and only an average of 223 mm. of rainfall a year means that common problems with grapes such as insects, fungi and molds are rarely seen, making cultivation with little or no pesticides a reality, not a dream.
Tom brought his vast business experience to Argentina; he holds a degree in law and once worked for Smith Barney in New York as a Stock Broker. He has held real estate licenses in California, New York, Colorado and Arizona. Tom has a background in art galleries and still shares his passion for art with Yvonne. Together they have already started their Argentine Artists art collection. Tom has been a featured Speaker for International Living and Live and Invest Overseas.
Yvonne has lived, studied, worked and traveled in Spain, France, Belgium and North Africa. She has a strong background in investment real estate and speaks both Spanish and French. Drawing from the international lifestyles she has enjoyed, combined with Tom’s business experience and attention to detail, they come together as the perfect match to see this project through.
Tom and Yvonne are currently writing a book from their experiences called “Vineyard Dreams”.
Humbly realizing that their love of wine was not enough to guarantee success in the vineyard business, the Phelans searched far and wide for expert help. Little by little the dream has materialized into reality. They enlisted help by hiring a well-respected agronomist to design their vineyards and select the grapevines that will produce the best future wine. When the planting of the first 32 acres began in July 2009, the Phelans hired a 24-7 onsite worker to oversee every step of the process, in addition to two other vineyard workers. They also went to great lengths to search out the best vineyard manager and are currently interviewing enologists (wine makers) from Argentina, France and Italy to ensure their future success. Together they are developing a powerhouse formula for creating quality wine.
A huge part of the Phelan vision is the creation of a community. Part of the allure of Argentina for this couple was the warm, connected culture. Eye contact and a big smile between strangers are normal and expected. Friends soon become more like family. Tom and Yvonne see this project not just as a business, but an investment into the quality of their retirement years as well. Nestled in apricot orchards, Tom and Yvonne have set aside a large 5 acre lot for themselves and will be building their own residence on-site where they plan to live full-time. An avid gardener and chef, Yvonne has plans for a large, organic community garden where vineyard owners can come together to cultivate both plants and friendships. Privacy is certain for those vineyard owners who look for it, but for those who seek out kinship with their neighboring vineyard owners, there will be entertainment offered in the future estancia, and plenty of opportunity to sit on your porch with your neighbor, watching the brilliant sunset as you each sip your own private label…of which you never had to get your hands dirty to create.
The beauty in this investment of a boutique vineyard lot is that it is absolutely turn-key. The dream team takes care of every detail, from planting of the selected grapevines, to vineyard maintenance, to bottling and labeling for you. If you choose to build a tiny, low maintenance cottage on the property to visit merely one week per year, or you choose to build your dream residence to live in twelve months per year, it makes no difference. The on-site crew will make sure that your grapes are well-looked after every single day, so that when you do arrive, you will arrive to flourishing, healthy vines. A 5 acre plot is expected to create 15,000 bottles of wine per year, leaving you with many options for consuming, gifting, or selling your huge bounty. Tom and Yvonne guarantee that they will buy your excess grapes at harvest if you choose, or they will help you to get your grapes bottled and shipped off if that is what you prefer. Given the inexpensive price of land compared to the rising international demand for Argentine wine, (imports to the USA were up 43% in 2007, 40% in 2008 and 39% in 2009, many people are buying boutique vineyards merely as an investment, looking to sell the yearly harvest at a handsome profit.
Imagine sitting anywhere in the world, proudly uncorking your own private Andean wine with your name on it to share with your friends and family. Your vineyard is there, thriving, if and when you, family or friends wish to retreat to its tranquility. Or you can think even bigger and imagine yourself relocating here, to la tierra del sol y buen vino (the land of sun and good wine) to stretch both your dollars and your spirit.
While La Vida Buena Vineyards are set in a pastoral environment, for recreation the Valle Grande area less than 30 minutes from your door offers white water rafting, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, horse back riding and more. Las Leñas offers unbelievable world class skiing and is only a scenic 2½ hour drive away. The location of San Rafael really does offer you the perfect balance between tranquility and endless adventure. What are you waiting for?
For more information about the Phelans, or about how you can soon be sipping your own exclusive label of Argentine wine, please visit www.argentinevineyardsforsale.com.