In a frankly near-universal experience, life has recently taken all of us to some… unexpected places. Fortunately, over this same strange year, we’ve also learned an important lesson: wherever life takes us, good wine can follow.
And thank God. Because while everyone enjoys savoring a glass of something complex in an elegant restaurant, we’re moving beyond traditional settings for today’s drinking and dining. We’ve had to become more nimble in the ways we entertain, and as the world opens back up, there’s a renewed wildness; a feral freedom in hospitality and entertaining that we just can’t (and don’t want) to shake. It’s an era of social nomadism and everyday adventure-taking, where a rooftop is just as likely as the shore of a sparkling lake to be the setting for your next get-together — and you’ll need good wine to come along (quite literally) for the ride.
Enter Bodega Santa Julia, the kind of winery that makes wine for wherever life takes you. Granted, any bottle you can fit into a backpack or picnic basket is technically wine “on the go,” but in these days of renewed hospitality and wide-open spaces, you’ll want wine from a winery that operates on a special wavelength: spirited, open-hearted, innovative, driven by a zest for life — and flavor. Maybe it’s just this (incredible) picture, but it seems like there’s no better mascot for 21st century-style borderless, inclusive hospitality than Bodega Santa Julia.
Many wineries exist in beautiful places, but Bodega Santa Julia seems to exist somewhere both beautiful and epic, where the winds of change never stop blowing, refreshing the soil and feeding the winery new inspiration. If any winery can accommodate our renewed lust for life in open spaces, it’s Santa Julia.
The fact is, Bodega Santa Julia has been operating with a unique spiritedness since its inception. The winery was the brainchild of an engineer, Alberto Zuccardi, who saw potential for innovations and irrigation and turned both into a winery of his own. While Bodega Santa Julia will always be rooted in Argentinian wine culture, the winery has always eagerly adapted to meaningful change; in addition to irrigation practices, Zuccardi’s son Jose Alberto (who also named the winery after his daughter, Julia Zuccardi) has seen national acclaim for bringing new varietals to the Argentinian soil. Then, in 2001, the winery was the first to open a visitors center (Casa del Visitante) complete with its own restaurant; and in the same year, the winery certified its first organic vineyards (today there are over 750 acres, making Santa Julia one of the country’s leading producers of organic wine).
And as if the winery wasn’t jaw-dropping enough, its restaurant –– Casa del Visitante –– has made waves for the Argentine Asado experience it provides. There, guests begin their meals outdoors where empanadas are oven-baked and traditional cuts of meat are cooked perfectly over open fires before moving inside where a wealth of fine meats and roasted vegetables are served alongside the vineyards’ most stunning wines. That said, even casual diners will be floored by the winery’s additional restaurant, Pan y Oliva, where guests can enjoy organic produce grown in the winery’s own garden and outdoor seating surrounded by gorgeous, locally produced sculptures.
“My grandfather … was always very concerned about caring for the environment,” says Julia Zuccardi, the eponymous Julia of Santa Julia and the winery’s current hospitality manager. “Winemaking is an activity very much linked to nature,” she told VinePair. “We depend on nature and believe we are responsible for caring for it.” The culture of Santa Julia itself is literally rooted in a love of the outdoors — i.e., this wine is not meant to remain stuck in the tasting room.
“We have always thought of Santa Julia as a wine for any and every situation,” Julia Zuccardi told us. Zuccardi herself looks comfortable enough enjoying a glass of wine outside, but she’s gone above and beyond simple outdoor drinking. In the middle of the pandemic, she was able to reenergize Santa Julia’s tourism with picnics in the garden of the Casa del Visitante as well as afternoon teas. If an invite like this doesn’t make you want to host your own Santa Julia Insta-worthy picnic, you might want to get your eyes checked. Or else buy a bottle of Santa Julia Malbec Rosé and maybe a swinging bench?
Speaking of that Malbec Rosé, a huge part of Bodega Santa Julia’s appeal in any picnic basket has to do with the way it makes its wines. Of course, yes, like any gorgeous, awarded, multi-generational family winery obsessed with terroir and agronomy, it boasts a long roster of wines, many suited to thoughtful sipping in quiet places. But the brand also totes fresh, ebullient, flavorful wines that are often unoaked in favor of unrestrained (read: juicy) fruit, playful acidity, lively aromatics, and a dynamic overall palate. The organic lineup is especially suited to hitting the road. In fact, anyone looking to outfit their next excursion with a decent rainbow of wines couldn’t do better than the Bodega Santa Julia Organic Malbec, Malbec Rosé, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
With its organic wines, Santa Julia is able to express the terroir of the Mendoza so distinctly, the grapes are as natural as they come, and the processing leaves only the purest expression of the varietal in the bottle. On top of that, some of the wines, including the Organic Malbec, are aged in steel. “It is fresh, fruity, and shows perfectly the expression of our vineyards’ soil and climate,” says Julia Zuccardi. Wines like that are perfect for picnics, poolside sipping, barbecues, even hiking or kayaking. “They are easier to drink and pair with fresh food,” says Julia Zuccardi. “Perfect for summer days.”
The freshness of the organic lineup and its moderate ABV make it perfect for outdoorsy food. Almost all the organic Santa Julia wines are 13.5 percent ABV, though the Malbec Rosé actually reaches 14 percent. Between that ABV, brisk acidity, and a wealth of dynamic flavors (ranging from green apple and pear to strawberry to spice and blackcurrant), Bodega Santa Julia organic wines can be paired with a wide range of foods — Julia Zuccardi says anything from cold cuts and hard goat cheeses (Malbec Rosé) to ceviche, Brie, or even a simple, beautiful tuna sandwich (for the Chardonnay). As ever, you have to follow your palate, and your sense of adventure.
And if you do come up with some rough-and-tumble or off-road outdoors experience, Santa Julia can come along in a couple different ways. Not only do some of its bottles come with screw caps (meaning easy to open anywhere), but Bodega Santa Julia is now doing several of its wines in cans. The brand first released the Organic Malbec Rosé and the Organic Chardonnay in the United States in 2018, and (once that got tons of love from Argentinians on Instagram) it did the same in Argentina in 2020. Not only are the cans sustainable, they actually preserve and protect the wine’s flavor arguably better than glass ever could.
And, of course, they travel well: Witness these lush-looking Bodega Santa Julia Malbec Rosé cans, picnic-ready in their basket, looking wildly, democratically portable. And for Zuccardi, that’s a huge part of the point. Canning certain wines, she says, “allow[s] consumers to take wines to situations where, before, wine was not considered [feasible], such as the beach, a pool, [or] a picnic.”
And then there’s the very doable price point. Organic Argentinian wines made in Bodega Santa Julia’s painstaking fashion often arrive at a higher price but cut off a big population of Santa Julia fans (and there are serious fans of Bodega Santa Julia out there).
“Santa Julia wines are a good value,” Julia Zuccardi says, “which makes them available for everyone.” While most of us won’t get to experience the sweeping views of Mendoza or marvel at the majesty of the Andes anytime soon, we can drink beautiful wine created in that very place — and take it with us on our own more local adventures. And for Zuccardi and her family, that’s the whole point.
“We want people to think of Santa Julia as every day, every moment, wine.”
We’ll toast to that.
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This article is sponsored by Bodega Santa Julia.