Tours and Activities:
The Wine DreamMarcelo SolaMarcelo Sola
We visited the Cooperativa Vitivinifrutícola de La Rioja Ltda. winery and learned everything about the virtues of these valleys for the production of excellent wines.
The Famatina Valleys region, located on the West of the Province of La Rioja between the Velazco Massif and the Famatina snow-capped mountains, is an ideal zone for the production of excellent vines and very good wine.
Height, light, the dry weather and the soil provide optimum conditions for winegrowing in this terroir. Not by chance has Cooperativa Vitivinifrutícola de La Rioja Ltda. -best known as La Riojana– has been producing first-quality worldwide-known wines since 1940.
Located in Chilecito, a few blocks away from the main square, the well-known winery offers the opportunity to visit its facilities, to learn about it history full of effort and contribution, and also, as expected, to taste its outstanding products.
As we entered the winery, we were welcomed by a guide from the company, who showed us the most important aspects in the site we were visiting.
“La Riojana has developed winemaking activities ever since 1940, ruled by the principles of the cooperation doctrine”, our guide explained and then added: “Today, 67 years after its foundation, it already has over 500 members, who represent 80% of the producers in the province.”
It is to be pointed out that more than fifty million kilograms of grapes arrive in this winery. They are produced in its 4,120 hectares and destined to making about forty million liters of first-quality wine using traditional techniques in combination with cutting-edge technology.
We went around the facilities and observed large tanks made of stainless steel, pools made of concrete and oak casks while the guide told us about the winemaking process. The aroma of the grapes took hold of the place and our smell, our sight and our taste awoke.
At this point, the host told us that the most transcendental event that took place here was the sowing of the white grape. “A spontaneous genetic mutation was generated from the Torrontés variety. A new unique varietal unlike any other was originated as a result. This gave shape to a kind known today as Torrontés Riojano, which produces tasty white wines, with matchless fragrance and color.”
As the tour continued, we learned that white varieties with grapes such as Torrontés Riojano –of course–, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, French Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc are produced at La Riojana winery. Red wines are made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Merlot, Barbera, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir grapes.
The most common conduction system used for these grapes is the arbor, followed by the Majuelo Riojano (typical vineyard in La Rioja), created as a result of the need to improve the use of water. But the most important thing is that the features of the Famatina Valleys, where these grapes are located, allow a winegrowing process free of plant disease products.
So much conversation made us feel thirsty. We were invited to the salesroom in order to taste the wine and confirm that everything the guide had already said was true. We took advantage of the occasion to practice various tasting exercises directed by the guide so as to obtain the maximum virtues of the wines.
Among the national market products, we wish to highlight the Santa Florentina Torrontés Riojano, the Santa Florentina Malbec-Syrah and, last but not least, the Santa Florentina late vintage wine called “Tardío Otoñal”. All of them, a real elixir for the palate. We recommend that you taste them during your visit to La Riojana Winery in Chilecito.