Chris’ note: Our regular beat here at The Daily Cut is money – how to make it and hold on to it. But periodically, we find other ideas we think are worth bringing to our readers…
Today, we hear from my friend Will Bonner. Will is Legacy Research cofounder Bill Bonner’s eldest son. And he recently founded a private wine partnership. It gives folks access to the unique wines from the Bonner family’s remote ranch in Northwestern Argentina.
These wines are not only delicious. (I tasted them personally at last year’s Legacy Investment Summit in California.) As Will reveals below, because of their grapes’ unique growing conditions, they may also hold the key to a longer life with less disease…
Now, over to Will Bonner…
From inside a cluster of trees, we heard a scream.
“Sh*t,” muttered my younger brother as he leapt from his horse.
My father, Bill Bonner, and I had been showing my younger brother and his fiancée two extreme-altitude vineyards on our family ranch in Argentina, Gualfin.
One is accessible only by horseback. The other, just barely.
Go figure… “Gualfin” is an old native word for “end of the road.”
But that makes it exceptionally suitable to grow some of the most delicious wines in the world.
And as I’ll show you in today’s and Monday’s dispatches, these wines are also perhaps the healthiest in the world. That’s because of a unique, age-fighting type of plant nutrient our grapes contain in high concentrations.
I even have some bottles available to ship to you… if you’re interested.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
To say the family ranch is remote is an understatement.
It’s in the Calchaquí Valley, high in the Andes in the northwest of the country. To get to the nearest city, you have to cross a wide desert plateau… then plunge down the back of a steep mountain.
The drive (unless there’s flooding) will take you six hours in a four-wheel drive.
Riding across the Calchaquí Valley
In such a remote area, far beyond where pavement ends, that which is not useful… is dinner. And the horses know it.
Accordingly, they tend to be a docile lot.
But the roan mare my brother’s fiancée was riding that day had woken up on the wrong side of the straw pile. A few hours into the ride, she suddenly bolted, leaving the poor girl clinging on for dear life.
It’s a family tradition to bring prospective spouses out to the ranch. My father calls it the Gualfin Test.
The test is not whether they throw up in the ride over the dirt-track roads, fall off their horses, or succumb to sunstroke or altitude sickness. It’s whether they demand to be driven six hours to the nearest city for a hot bath, air conditioning, or (worse) a doctor.
For my brother’s fiancée, the test had begun.
But she wasn’t alone.
Every organism on the ranch – from dogs, to horses, to our vines – has weathered the Gualfin Test.
They contend with wild temperature swings (as much as 70° F)… powerful blasts of UV light through the thin atmosphere… low oxygen levels… roaring winds… and the assured absence of help if you get into trouble.
It’s enough to kill most things. But for those plants and animals that survive, the “test” comes with major benefits: longevity and good health.
Gualfin’s inhabitants are a small group of homesteaders and natives. And they live in near-total isolation.
Up at our most remote vineyard – so overgrown and inaccessible it’s nearly impossible to harvest – an elderly woman, Elena, once had a homestead. She lived there in complete self-sufficiency well into her 80s.
She made – and I can attest to this personally – the best cheese in the valley.
She had no daily pill regimen. (The nearest pharmacy is a day’s journey away.) And she rarely saw a doctor. Around these parts, if you fall ill, the trek to see a doctor is more dangerous than toughing it out on your own.
In any case, the people here seem to stay active and live far beyond what their rough-hewn lives might dictate.
For scientists, the latter observation would scarcely be surprising. They have long known that subjecting organisms to certain stressors results in slower aging and disease progression.
Stressing yeast with short bursts of extreme heat and cold allows it to live up to 30% longer. And studies have linked “caloric stressing” – aka fasting – to longer lifespans and less disease.
I’ve seen this effect firsthand inspecting the grapes at our extreme-altitude vineyards. They’re 8,400 feet above sea level. And over the centuries since the original Malbec vines came from Europe to the Calchaquí Valley, they’ve been adapting to the unique conditions.
For instance, they’ve become ultra-efficient at concentrating the few nutrients they have. The vines grow thick bark… and the grapes grow thick skins… to protect themselves from the sun.
And the benefits of this struggle against nature don’t just stay in the plant.
They carry on through to the wine… and the wine drinker.
And as you’ll see in Part II of this essay in Monday’s Daily Cut… it’s the result of a special nutrient (called a flavonoid) found in high-altitude grapes that “tricks” the body into activating a powerful age-fighting pathway.
Founder, Bonner Private Wine Partnership
P.S. Most wines have had the life sucked out of them by modern winemaking techniques that seem like they were invented at Dow Chemical.
Meanwhile, the wines from these extreme-altitude regions of Argentina are made from handpicked grapes… fed with natural snowmelt water that trickles down from mountain peaks 10,000 feet high.
It’s why I created Bonner Private Wine Partnership. Our mission is to search the world for unknown, underappreciated, but astounding wines. And then ship them to your door. To find out more about how to join our little club… and taste some of the wines grown on our vineyard… read on here.
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