Chris’ note: Markets are closed for Labor Day. So instead of our usual markets fare, something a little different.
My mentor and legendary newsletter-publishing entrepreneur Bill Bonner was locked down at his 100,000-acre ranch in Northwestern Argentina for nine months of the pandemic. And he wrote about the challenges of running a ranch in such as remote place.
These included floods, impassable roads, Argentina’s crazy lockdown restrictions, and the long-running property disputes with folks claiming indigenous right to his land.
Thankfully, he had a supply of his high-altitude malbec wine to get him through. Today, we hear from Bill’s eldest son, Will, about how they became accidental winemakers when Bill bought the ranch nearly two decades ago.
And if you’d like, you can order some bottles of Will’s high-altitude malbec to try yourself. He’ll have it delivered right to your door. Go here now to order your own supply.
Come with me on a journey 5,000 miles away to a land where campfires burn late into the night as gauchos doze off under the stars…
… where women work looms under dawn’s first light…
… where the nearest city is six hours away across a jagged mountain landscape…
… where Heaven and Earth seem to become one on a clear, boundless horizon…
… and where a small brotherhood of winemakers makes some of the highest-altitude vintages in the world.
In 2005, I got a phone call from my father, Bill Bonner.
If you don’t know him already, back in 1978, he set up a small publishing company in a row house in Baltimore, Maryland.
He was interested in publishing ideas and opportunities the mainstream media overlooked.
That business, Agora, Inc., was the seed from which Legacy Research and dozens of other successful independent publishing ventures grew.
And for more than two decades, he’s been writing daily newsletters for folks interested in exploring global financial markets, investing, history, and, as he puts it, the “deep dark recesses of the human heart.”
First as The Daily Reckoning… then as Bill Bonner’s Diary… and now under the Bonner Private Research banner.
As I’m sure his readers know, although Dad’s now in his 70s, he’s not your average retiree.
When he’s here in the U.S., he spends every weekend working on his farm – mending wooden fences, repairing the old stone buildings, and keeping the fields in good shape.
That’s when he’s not writing a book… playing Johnny Cash songs on his guitar… or venturing to some little-known corner of the world.
Dad with his cattle in Argentina
So when he told me that he’d found “something special” in Argentina…
… well, I knew I was in for an adventure.
In Search of Something Special
It turned out that something special was an isolated ranch roughly the size of Rhode Island. It’s called Gualfín.
The trouble was… it’s in the Calchaquí Valley – a high mountain valley way out on Argentina’s northwestern corridor. In other words, in the middle of nowhere.
I had to use satellite imagery to look it up…
Bill’s ranch, as seen from space
Go figure – “Gualfín” in the local indigenous language means “end of the road.” Still, Dad was adamant I come check it out.
When I got there (it took me three days), the beauty of the place swept me away.
The name is fitting. This place felt like the end of the Earth.
Me at the edge of the world…
We figured we could raise cattle on it.
But we soon discovered it was too dry and remote to sustain a profitable cattle or farming operation.
Riding across the property one day, we came to a small valley fed by a thin trickle of water snaking its way down from the mountains…
And there, gnarled and overgrown, was a long-forgotten vineyard of malbec grapes. They had been planted by the previous owner of the ranch as an experiment.
Incredibly, what we had discovered, right there on the ranch, was one of the highest-altitude vineyards in the world… at over 8,000 feet…
… And a unique microclimate found nowhere else on Earth.
The hidden vineyard at Gualfín – 8,421 feet above the world
As it turned out, we weren’t alone.
Across the Calchaquí, in little valleys hidden away from the world, a small brotherhood of winemakers has toiled away in near obscurity for 200 years… using techniques passed down from father to son… making wines unlike any others you’ve ever had.
The secret to why these wines are so highly prized today (I’ve seen single bottles go for more than $500 in the U.S.) lies in the extreme conditions their grapes must survive each passing season.
This includes daily blasts of UV light 80% more intense than in Bordeaux… and nightly temperature swings of up to 70° F…
They’re also watered with pure, nutrient-rich snowmelt that trickles down from 10,000 feet.
And because of the high altitude, there’s no need to drench the vines in chemicals (which can’t be said of many wine regions).
Nor will the winemakers insult them by mixing in “oak” extracts, dyes (more common than you think), or excess sugar. In fact, the wines from these grapes are 99% lower in residual sugar than other wines I’ve tested.
But until recently, you had to be a near-billionaire (or at least friends with one) to get your hands on a bottle of one of these high-altitude wines.
Most of these wineries are too small and isolated for a major importer to spend time on.
That’s how I came up with the idea of a partnership. I would band together some good friends to import the world’s greatest wines to the U.S. – some for the first time ever. If we could just get enough people together to pack a shipping container, we could make it work.
And so began the Bonner Private Wine Partnership. When we first opened, we had so little wine, we had to limit membership to just 1,000 members.
It’s not an easy business. On two occasions, members of my team almost died getting out to these isolated little valleys. Currency fluctuations, sky-high tariffs, and shipping costs make it hell on a balance sheet.
But in France, they say that a great wine comes not from the grape, but from the character of the man who made it.
It takes a special kind of character to live out so high above the world, at what feels like the edge of the world.
And it takes a special kind of character to pass up the luxury so common in wine regions such as Mendoza, Argentina, or Napa Valley, California, in search of something unique.
At the Bonner Private Wine Partnership, we figure if we can keep these isolated winemakers going, it will be worth it.
Founder, Bonner Private Wine Partnership
P.S. Care to taste an extreme-altitude malbec 150 years in the making? You can reserve some of the Calchaquí Valley’s greatest wines…. And I’ll ship them straight to your doorstep.
Our next shipment goes out days from now. You can reserve yours by clicking here. Just be aware that these are small producers. So supplies are limited and can sell out fast.