ZUCCARDI   Mendoza  -  ARGENTINA

At the foot of the Andes Mountains, in the vast desert province of Mendoza sits Familia Zuccardi, Argentina's largest family-owned winery as well as one of the leading exporters of Argentine wines. For over 40 years, Familia Zuccardi has produced wines of exceptional quality and value from the soils of Maipu and Santa Rosa. Every wine at Familia Zuccardi is from estate grown, hand-picked fruit and is estate produced in a state-of-the-art facility. In total, there are 1,600 acres of noble grapes under cultivation. Innovation is a trademark of Familia Zuccardi. Experimentation with new plantings is vital to their quest for quality. The estate utilizes a small experimental winery that has twenty stainless steel tanks of varying sizes — 500, 2000, 3000 and 6000 liters. The objective is to experiment with up to 25 new varieties over the course of 5+ years along with new vinification techniques. This allows the Zuccardi's to get feedback about the varieties, their suitability for commercialization and the best vinification techniques for each varietal. Successful experiments have yielded the first Viognier from Argentina as well as a popular Pinot Grigio and a port-styled Malbec (called Malamado). Recently, the Zuccardi's have built a winery devoted to the production and ageing of sparkling wines, which will be headed by the next generation of Zuccardi wine makers. In "the land of sun and good wine," the Zuccardi's grow all their vines under the parral system. The parral system trains the vines overhead into a series of green arches. This enables photosynthesis to take place under perfect conditions by giving the vine leaves good access to solar rays, angled towards them in no more than two leaf layers and forming a true solar screen. This guarantees high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants in the grapes. Grapes in their parral systems also benefit from superior ventilation as they are suspended free of the foliage, guaranteeing their health and an adequate supply of light. The parral system and the climate (low rainfall, few pests) in Mendoza lend themselves to organic farming practices. While the entire estate operates under sustainable agricultural practices, half of the vineyards are certified organic. At Familia Zuccardi, when it comes to producing world class Argentine wine, they take their job seriously. Their philosophy is simple. As Jose Zuccardi puts it, "The word 'family' is central to the way in which we have always run our business. This means that many of the families, such as the Morenos and the Vegas, who joined the Company in my father's day, are still with us today caring for the vineyards and we now have a permanent workforce of over 450 people. To guarantee the quality of our Familia Zuccardi brand, we believe in using people rather than machines whenever possible." Workers at Familia Zuccardi are employed year-round and the winery provides subsidized health care and free education to all its workers. There are several distinct lines under the Zuccardi brand available in the US: Zuccardi Serie A, Zuccardi Q, Malamado, and Zeta.