THE BLOG
09/17/2014 08:38 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2014

Love Letters: Mendoza

Gonzalo Carrasco was born in 1980 in the city of Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes mountains. From an early age, he showed interest in winemaking. At the age of 18, while he was working as an intern, he had the first contact with the world of wine. Since then, he has worked in different wineries in Mendoza, Spain, France and Australia. For the past three years, he has been part of the technical team of Bodega Numanthia (Spain) supporting the group at harvest time. Today, Gonzalo Carrasco is the assistant winemaker at Terrazas de los Andes, in charge of winemaking and communication among the different lines of Terrazas.


The Andes Mountains are the dramatic and iconic backdrop for life in Mendoza, providing stunning views of snowcapped peaks that are the signature of our region. Even in the summer time when it's so hot and dry that you can kick a trail of dust as you walk, you look up and the cool, dark mountains capped with white stretch as far as the eye can see. This is what makes me feel at home. As a winemaker, the mountains are everything because they are the reason we can grow grapes in our desert climate. Since we have very little rainfall, we rely on the snowmelt from the Andes to water our vineyards. As people who make their living growing and harvesting grapes, winemakers are always talking about the weather. What also makes this city stand-out (besides the Andes and great wines of course), are the abundance of trees and network of irrigation channels running through the streets. The trees were planted to protect the city from the bright sun, and the irrigation channels deliver much-needed water throughout the city. As a child, I played in these channels and lost many toys to the fast current.

In the city center back in the 19th century there used to be an agronomic institute; a place dedicated to fruit, vegetable and vine growing education. It was at this institute that I learned to make wine. The red Malbec grape, which became Argentina's most renowned variety, was first planted at the institute in 1850 when it arrived from Europe.

In addition to the stunning look of Mendoza, one cannot talk about this city without focusing on the luxurious tastes and aromas. The generous, dark, cherry-plum fruit with hints of dusty earth, leather and spice of Malbec wines explain Mendoza in a glass. When I was a young, I remember every house in the neighborhood used to have grapevines in their backyards to provide protection from the blistering sun and, of course, to grow grapes. As a young boy, my grandfather taught me how to make grape juice, wine and even grape jam.

When I was in college I worked at different wineries for several harvests, one of which was Terrazas de los Andes. The history of Terrazas goes back to the 1950s when Moët & Chandon came to Argentina looking for high-altitude vineyards. Of course as a local, working at Terrazas is a great opportunity since the wines are famous worldwide. During my internship my ambition and drive fueled my passion of someday becoming a winemaker in Mendoza. However, life took me on a different path for a while. I worked in Australia, France and Spain, collecting amazing cultural and personal experiences and learning so much about the world of wine, but, as home often does, Mendoza drew me back.

It has been over a decade since I first started working at Terrazas and it's a pleasure to work at a winery where each person is a specialist at what they do, telling countless stories of each harvest they have worked on. Every day I feel the same enthusiasm about this place, my team and the wonderful product we craft by hand, and every night I look out at the mountains and drink a great glass of wine.