In a world increasingly hungry for authentic experiences, the quest for something genuine drives us to the far corners of the globe. It's in the ancient terrains, where centuries of human endeavor have just barely touched the landscape, that we find true authenticity. 

No photograph can capture the majesty of the Calchaquí Valley. The scale of its beauty defies it. The vastness speaks a language only understood by those who traverse its expanses. This is why I've chosen to share my adventure in this remarkable region, the source of our next wine collection.

This is not just about witnessing the transformation of grapes into wine; it's about understanding the Herculean effort required to tame wild regions into producing some of the world's finest wines. The journey from vine to bottle is a testament to human will, a force that molds the natural world into a vessel of cultural heritage.

This narrative will unfold over a three-part series, diving deep into the heart of our journey, the wines, and the unbreakable bond between land and vine. It’s a testament to why we embark on such quests: to bring not just the wine, but its soul, to our club members.

This series narrates a journey taken with an invitation from Agustín Lanús, visionary vintner and longtime partner of ours, who called me to explore his "Exploración" vineyards on horseback. What unfolds is a tale of discovery, endurance, and the profound connection between man, horse, and vineyard. It’s not just a story of traversing geographical landscapes, but of navigating the rich tapestry of human experience, of forging bonds with the land that nourish not just your body, but your spirit.

In the vast expanse of the Calchaquí Valley, where the earth touches the sky and the air is clear and thin, I embarked on an adventure that tested every fiber of my being. Agustín proposed a three-day horseback ride across this untamed landscape to visit the trio of vineyards he'd planted in the most unforgiving terrains. As we anticipate the release of the Argentine Collection of 2024, I invite you to join our wine club and partake in the essence of this extraordinary adventure, set to start shipping later in February.

The adventure began on November 18, not with the ease of a seasoned equestrian but with the trepidation of a novice rider. Agustín, ever the 'Loco Lindo,' had a peculiar prerequisite: if I was to join, it was imperative to do so in full gaucho regalia. This was more than a mere suggestion; it was an initiation into a lifestyle that predates us by centuries. The attire was the least of my concerns, though. My proficiency on horseback was rudimentary, at best. Yet, the allure of the journey — the promise of experiencing the vineyards firsthand, in their elemental glory — was irresistible.

The physical demands of the journey were unlike anything I had ever experienced. The nights under the starlit sky were cold, with our ponchos our only shield against the chill and our saddles serving as makeshift pillows. This was no leisurely ride through the countryside; it was a baptism by fire into the world of the gauchos who have roamed these lands for generations.

Our convoy, a mix of Agustín's friends, cousins, and a few brave city-dwellers like myself, embarked with a sense of camaraderie that would be tested and strengthened in the days to come. The Criollo horses, known for their stamina and agility, were our faithful companions through terrains that seemed designed to challenge the very notion of hospitality. The journey was grueling, pushing us to our limits, both physically and mentally.

On the first day, we covered 22 kilometers (about 13.7 miles), ascending to heights where the air thinned even further, at 3,638 meters (around 11,936 feet) above sea level. The landscape is a rugged testament to the indomitable spirit of nature, but also of the people who have cultivated this land throughout history. The Calchaquí Valley does not yield easily to the whims of men.

The details of the trip, the preparation, the early losses — like my father's knife slipping from my belt, a stark reminder of the challenges ahead — and the collective effort to carry essentials, underscored the journey's severity. We were not merely visitors; we became part of the fabric of the valley, if only for a brief moment in time.

Our first night's encampment offered no respite from the day's hardships. Instead, it presented an opportunity to bond over the shared ordeal, under the vast expanse of the night sky. The hospitality of a local shepherd, who welcomed us with a meal of goat cooked in an earthen oven, was a poignant reminder of the simple yet profound connections that define this place. It was a moment of reflection on the day's journey, on the history and cultures that have thrived in this harsh landscape, and on the wines that somehow encapsulate this entire experience.

As we prepare to ship the Argentine Collection of 2024, I extend a heartfelt invitation to join our wine club. This collection is the embodiment of the journey, the land, and the ancient traditions that birthed them. Join us, and let the spirit of the Calchaquí Valley, with all its challenges and beauty, fill your glass.

Stay tuned for the next installment, where we'll delve deeper into the hardest physical thing I've ever done, and the indomitable spirit of this ancient wine region. Welcome to the adventure; welcome to our community.

I tracked our entire journey using my GPS watch because I was keen to document our path. This allowed me to capture an overview of the landscape and our route through the mountains.

Bonner Private Wine Partnership