BODEGA CAMARGO: THE STORY OF A FAMILY THAT OVERCAME THE CRISIS AND MANAGED TO PUT DOWN ROOTS
14 Jan 2023
Bodega Camargo is a family business located in the Rincón Deseado estate in the district of Las Paredes, San Rafael. Since the late 90s they started working in the production of artisanal wines and olive oil. Its history began as a result of a layoff that would change the life of Carlos Camargo and his family.
“We made the decision 25 years ago to buy a farm. My wife was born on one and I worked in a very large winery here in San Rafael. That winery was sold and the first thing the buyers did was to close the branch here and we were left without work”, Carlos said. The winery in question was Resero, which had been acquired by the company Cartellone. After the decision to close it, 400 people lost their jobs, among them Carlos Camargo, who worked in administration.
“We started working with a winemaker friend, who had also been laid off and compensated. We pooled the severance pay and set up the winery. We spent a couple of years making wine and came up with the idea of opening it to tourism.” Once they had possession of the vineyards and the estate, they started working on making wines – Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon – and sparkling wines.
After a few years, with the help of the provincial government, they had the opportunity to travel to Italy to see how olive oil was produced. There Camargo had the opportunity to learn about the production and the necessary machinery, and when they returned to Mendoza they started to produce their own olive oil.
All the products produced by the family are organic and handmade, about this Carlos explains that they have the certification granted by the Organización Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), which generates an added value to the product. “Many people want to eat healthier, so this also helps us because the certifier uploads all of our information to which potential customers can access. In fact, we have had some who came through this space. Nowadays many people want to eat healthier, without chemicals and pesticides, so being organic is a great value.
The fact that the products are artisanal means that their production is not industrialized and they have total control of the process, from the time the grapes are harvested in the vineyard to bottling. “The Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura made a good decision in allowing homemade wines to be made. Many producers were forced to deliver their grapes to wineries and that’s as far as they went. Now we can complete the winemaking circuit and sell our wines directly to the customer,” Camargo explains.
Regarding this last point, Camargo explains that after the pandemic, the link with customers was strengthened despite the crisis. In this sense, the use of social networks allowed them to increase their reach to customers located in all parts of the country. Making direct sales and shipments to Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe and Santiago del Estero.
“Now we are having many customers from Mar del Plata, people from the area of Tandil, Bolivar, Balcarce. Small towns like Necochea, are coming to San Rafael and that is the best customer, because they take products and then when they want more they contact you to send them,” he says about the arrival of tourism.
The Camargo winery offers a tasting service and guided tours. There is a tour of the vineyards, the oil mill and the facilities where the family accompanies the visitors showing them the state of production and giving an informative talk. “What people want to see is how a producer lives on a farm with his family, to go back perhaps a little bit to the roots”.
Regarding the future, one possibility for growth is to start producing grape juice. “We are looking forward to making grape juice, because it is very healthy and gives us the natural sugar we need to consume. We believe that grape juice can become something very important for Mendoza, because it allows us to work in a different way with the most important fruit of our province”.
The winery is currently run by Carlos Camargo and his wife, Beatriz Vázquez. Together with them, their son-in-law and their two young grandchildren work day by day to make the family business grow. One of the couple’s hopes is to leave the family business to the children, who are already showing interest and enthusiasm for the wine business.