Bodega Argento: Savvy and Sustainable
Sustainability can take on many forms – environmental, human, financial – and when all three aspects work together, every stakeholder benefits.
Initially established in 1999, Bodega Argento was sold to the industrialist Alejandro Bulgheroni in 2012. Alejandro’s ownership brought with it the respected enologist and consultant Alberto Antonini, and it is under his mentorship that Argento has become the biggest organic grower in Argentina.
Organic all over
Argento, part of Grupo Avinea, is the largest organic producer in Mendoza, Argentina, producing up to 210,000 9L cases of organic wine every year. And despite all the other benefits of working sustainably and organically, it was primarily their pursuit for quality that pushed them in the direction of farming organically.
Argento’s vineyards span three regions: Lujan de Cuyo, Uco Valley, and Maipu. Most of them are either organic certified, or in the process of being converted to organic practices. Working with the grapes in the most natural way, considering the soil and climate, also gives a strong local identity to the wines.
In the winery, their top priority is to take care of the grapes in the most natural way possible. This is also to ensure that the terroir is expressed through the wines, with minimal reliance on oak.
On the grassroot level is head winemaker Juan Pablo Murgia. Juan Pablo grew up in Mendoza, and learned the importance and value of organic farming from his family from a young age. In 2021, he was crowned as Young Winemaker of the Year by journalist Tim Atkin MW in his 2021 Argentina Report.
According to Juan Pablo: “When we planted the first vineyards, we never thought to be organic. But certification always comes with this way of working. Our aim was to make the best quality wine in the most sustainable way. When you grow naturally, the result is a more vibrant wine that tells you where it’s from.”
The team at Argento believes that organic production and sustainability go hand in hand, to express the best of the region as well as to preserve it. The soil, climate, grape variety, and the team all work in harmony, and are impacted by the sustainable model.
All the machinery used are energy-saving, and they go even further by conducting energy efficiency audits with expert guidance. As they state on their website, “We measure ourselves to improve ourselves”.
Taking care of the water and soil is a continuous goal at Argento, so the alkaline solution used to wash vessels are then sent to a water treatment plant to be reused as irrigation. Argento is also the only winery in the region with its own sewage treatment plant, through which they can reuse the resulting water for garden irrigation. On top of managing waste water, the wines are also mostly bottled in recycled glass and low weight bottles, such as ecological bottles. Organic waste is sent to the vineyard for composting.
Sustainability also includes taking care of the people doing the work, and this is done through Fairtrade and various other initiatives.
Argento promotes human and labour rights and good working conditions across their entire supply chain, and take action to ensure the wellbeing of their people is taken into consideration. On top of that, they promote non-discriminatory employment practices, freedom of association, and collective bargaining rights for the workforce.
In addition to their environmental and humanitarian practices, all wines from Argento are vegan friendly. Producing vegan wines reduces, and can ultimately stop, the use of animal products such as casein, gelatin, and isinglass as fining agents.
To ensure transparency, the social and environmental practices implemented at Argento are independently audited by third party organisations, as part of different certification schemes, i.e. Organic, Bodegas de Argentina Sustainability Protocol and Fairtrade International.
Bringing sustainability to the table
In September 2021, Grupo Avinea took their commitment to sustainability a step further by joining forces with other industry stakeholders to create the Sustainable Wine Roundtable (SWR). Together with other leading wine brands, distributors, small producers, retailers, and environmental organisations, the SWR was created to accelerate sustainable initiatives in the wine industry, and to create a global standard for sustainability.
The SWR is the only global, independent, nonprofit, roundtable with multiple stakeholders in the sustainability sector. The SWR supports the wine community in creating a world where high quality wine is produced, traded, and consumed in ways that conserve and regenerate ecosystems, protect human rights, foster equality and inclusion, and generate prosperity, pride and passion for excellence.
Argento’s commitment to organic and sustainable practices makes it clear that they are planning for the future, and will safeguard their operations for many decades to come.