Pircas Negras

The building of the La Riojana Coop

who? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes at Pircas Negras? 

500 small family farms contribute grapes to a cooperative in the Famatina Valley where Pircas Negras is made. The Coop, called La Riojana, prides itself on reinvesting in the community to build infrastructure and is one of the largest Fair-Trade, certified organic operations in the world. Roughly 10% of the farmers in the valley are now certified organic and contributing grapes to Pircas Negras.

La Riojana and Rodolfo

what wines do they make at Pircas Negras?

Pircas Negras produces a line of single varietal wines, including Malbec and Torrontes, the staples of Argentina, along side Cabernet Sauvignon and a true Barbera (many Argentinian wines labelled Barbera are actually Bonarda).  In part thanks to the altitude at which they are grown, and in part thanks to a delicate touch in the winery, each is an honest representation of the grape where others from the region can be higher in alcohol and more heavily oaked.

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when did Pircas Negras start?

The coop began in 1940 with a few Italian families who emigrated to the Famatina Valley. Today, many of the members are into their second and third generations as members. Most of the parcels are small – just 3 acres on average – but the annual sale of grapes plays a major role in each families livelihood.

where is Pircas Negras?

The Famatina Valley is as far north from Mendoza as the Willamette Valley is from Napa, and like Oregon, the climate is relatively cooler than its southern neighbor. At altitudes of 3000 to 4600 feet, temperatures drop dramatically at night and the wines tend to reflect that with slightly higher acidity and a touch lower alcohol than what we see from Mendoza. Soils are largely a mix of sand and chalk in the valley.

Pircas Negras, Famatina Valley

why is Pircas Negras a Candid Wine?

The Famatina Valley seems to be to Mendoza what Oregon is to Napa Valley: a slightly cooler climate that produces elegant wines.  Some ten percent of the farmers in the area farm organically, an important guarantee for Candid in a marketplace flooded with inexpensive, mass produced wines.   The coop reinvests a portion of its profits in the Valley’s infrastructure, assisting the small family farms that compose its membership to achieve economic and agricultural sustainability.   We would not carry the wines if they were not good, and these are good on many levels.

The vineyard of Pircas Negras

how is the wine made at Pircas Negras?

Winemaker Dr. Rodolfo Griguol oversees all production at Pircas Negras with a focus on single varieties and technique that puts the fruit first. Rodolfo is known for his mastery of Torrontés, and in particular his knowledge of Torrontés Riojano, a local clone that produces a version of the grape unique to the area.  Additionally, Rodolfo is a teacher and director of Oenology at the National University of Chilecito.

Working at the vineyards of Pircas Negras