The world of wine has gone beyond the boundaries of the winery and is now linked to other activities like polo. An increasing number of wineries boast their own polo fields now or are sponsoring a team.
Polo and wine have become the hottest pair at a handful of top Argentinian wineries. This combination between wine and sport is attracting an ever bigger following. Besides building their winery, some companies are already thinking about including polo fields and even golf courts in their premises.
According to winery owners, these sports are closely linked to wine and sparklers. The international public has set its eyes on Argentinian sportspeople (think about Adolfito Cambiaso, Francisco Pizarro, Ignacio Heguy and many others), who are the world’s polo torchbearers. That is why relating wine to this sport may serve to give a touch of Argentinian distinction to the wine business and enhance its prestige.
Several wineries have made their own polo fields just for pleasure, yet others see it as a way to develop a dual brand.
Cheval des Andes, whose chief winemaker, Nicolás Audebert, is a polo fan, built its own polo field just for pleasure. Escorihuela Gascón, owned by Ernesto Catena, another polo fan, did likewise. Bodega Del Fin del Mundo, which works together with La Dolfina and has a polo team led by Adolfo Cambiaso, is a good example of a company that developed a brand concept associated to the sport.
A joint venture between Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de Los Andes
Cheval des Andes is a business venture which brings together the elegance and vast experience in the art of blending of Bordeaux’s Grand Cru and Terrazas de los Andes’s (Group Möet Hennessy) sound knowledge of Argentina’s best terroirs.
Terrazas’s Export Manager, Andrés Belinsky, who is taking his first steps in polo these months guided by his friend Auedbert, said that “in April 2008, Cheval des Andes opened Cheval des Andes Vine Loft, a place amidst the vineyards, for wine lovers to enjoy Cheval des Andes wines. This spot brings together nature, wine, terroir, gastronomy and Argentinian polo.”
Cheval des Andes polo field is located in Las Compuertas, Vistalba, within an estate with 35 hectares of vineyards including Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Different events are organized by the winery in the polo field and Vine Loft, often including exhibition games as well as horseback practices for those who already know how to ride, or polo swing practice on wooden horses for beginners. Those who just want to have some fun can choose to ride “polo bikes” especially designed for Cheval des Andes.
Catena and polo
Last March, Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón opened El Condor, its first polo field. It is located within the Cóndor Andino estate, surrounded by the fascinating Los Andes landscape in the heart of Agrelo, one of Mendoza’s most prestigious winemaking regions, which span over 157,000 m2. The vineyards were designed in the shape of a condor, Mendoza’s guardian and protector.
Ernesto Catena is a horse lover. That is why he decided to build his own polo field and have his winery Escorihuela Gascón sponsor his team. Catena has his own polo horses in the estate where the polo field is located.
Escorihuela Gascón does not actually have a permanent team, so they invite prestigious players and personalities from Argentina every time there is a game. For instance, last March, they invited former soccer player Gabriel Batistuta and the brother of Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Martín Zorreguieta.
“Having a polo field reinforces our commitment to polo and its development all over the country. We feel closely identified with the values upheld in this sport: perseverance, sacrifice and the quest for perfection in every detail,” comments Ernesto Catena, president of the company.
This is a mega venture launched eight months ago that combines vineyards and residential areas, golf and polo clubs. The company, Burco América, offers a lifestyle related to wine and the art of good living. Contrary to the generalized idea that these projects are only targeted to foreign people who wish to live in Argentina, Tupungato Winelands also attracts local investors from Buenos Aires and Mendoza. Winelands will have two polo fields that will be opened this year, as well as stables and other service facilities.
Bodega del Fin del Mundo together with La Dolfina
Bodega del Fin del Mundo has been working with La Dolfina for a year, sponsoring different events. As Ana Viola, the director of the winery, explained, their objective was to enter this interesting niche, which enjoys excellent positioning both at home and abroad. “Today polo is one of the products that Argentina exports with great success. This sport is related to wine since it is part of the Argentinian tradition, and our country is world-famous for the quality of both horses and polo players, and of the wine it produces.”
Furthermore Viola pointed out that “polo favors the wine industry since it reinforces the concept of uniqueness, quality and worldwide prestige that is a synonym of Argentina. It’s a premium product that, by being someway linked to the concept of terroir, reinforces Argentina’s status as a producer of quality exports.”
Moreover, “the wine market is so fragmented and competitive that it’s important to find differential values that will make us unique and irreplaceable. It’s key for Argentina to stand out by resorting to elements that make it unique: polo, tango, and in our particular case, Patagonia,” highlighted Viola.
Translation: Inglés del Vino
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