Cachi, the heart of the valley known as Alto Valle Calchaquí, wins the traveler's heart with its vast landscape, its colonial architecture, archeology from before the Inca empire, and with the taste of its wines, of extraordinary characteristics attained as a consequence of its vineyard's altitude (between 2300 and 2500 mamsl).
It is there, a few steps away from the town's square, that Isasmendi Estate and Winery is located.
The 3 hectare property, which includes an old manor house and the vineyards themselves, was acquired by Ricardo Isasmendi and his wife Sylvie Bonnalen in 2005. Before them, the vineyard belonged to Norwegian Arne Hoygard, who made wine while he practiced admirably as a doctor, and was very much loved and respected in the town. That is how the new owners assumed the responsibility to value this abundant place, as well as its significant history. The yard, the heart of the winery-house which witnessed the presence of individuals such as Juan Carlos Dávalos, has always been a space for hearty meetings around a tasteful torrontés under the vine.
The Isasmendi family's viticultural background goes back to 1831, when the last royal governor of Salta, Don Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi established Colomé Winery. In 1854, his daughter, Asunción, married José Benjamín Dávalos. She was the one who introduced the French Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapevines. Today, Colomé is the oldest winery in Argentina. The winery belonged to the family for 170 years, until it was acquired by the Hess group in 2001. That is why the new Isasmendi Winery's history is tied to a family tradition which goes back to the 17th century.
Today, the Isasmendi Winery is a family business made up by grandparents, parents and grandchildren, all of whom are very well advised and motivated by grandfather Jean Paul Bonnal, Sylvie's father, a Frenchman who made Argentina his home many years ago. He is passionate about the art of viticulture and enology, which he took up as a very young child in his French terroir. His love, dedication, effort, determination and ability to communicate with the grapes add some special magic to the procedure, which is undoubtedly translated into the final product.
Visitors are always friends: they get to listen to the history of the place, an explanation of how the process of production works, as well as the way in which it has evolved with each grape harvest, based on genuine passion and hard work in the hands of the grandfather, who wishes for it to forever remain in the family. There is also wine tasting, with some Cellarius or Bonnal straight out of the bottling process or even out of the barrel itself. It takes place under the pepper tree which decorates the yard, surrounded by sublime and native nature, where vineyards blend into the Cachi hills.