In 2004, I came to Argentina for what I thought would be a three-week vacation. I needed a break after working as a consultant on the John Kerry campaign. We lost, of course.
At that point, I couldn’t imagine living outside the United States. But Argentina struck me on a deep level. It was spectacularly beautiful, and the people were warm and welcoming.
So I figured, I’ll stay for six months. It’ll be a great adventure. I’ll learn Spanish, have a good time, then go back to the States. As a wine nut, I wanted to visit Mendoza. I went to a tasting in Buenos Aires and asked the sommelier if she knew anyone in Mendoza. She connected me with winemaker Pablo Giménez Riili. We met for coffee, and it was like reuniting with a long-lost brother. Pablo took three days off to show me the city and its wineries.
That’s when I decided to buy a little piece of land here. Pablo’s family would take care of it, and I’d come down once a year and make some wine. Then I started talking to my buddies, and they said, “If you’re going to do that, we want to do it, too.” That’s when the lightbulb went off.
A lot of people dream of making their own wine but don’t have millions of dollars to invest. So we started the Vines of Mendoza. It’s a resort and winery. We give wine lovers the opportunity to buy small plots of land and participate in farming and winemaking as much or as little as they’d like. There’s something primal about creating something you love from scratch—from planting and tending the vines to harvesting, fermenting, and blending.
Twelve years in, I love it. I go back to the States six or seven times a year, but I don’t know if I’ll ever live there again. Business is good. Our success comes from the best of both cultures. We act like gringos when it comes to legal documents, but if you have a business lunch with us, it’ll be three or four hours. It’s not about running through an agenda. It’s about getting to know each other and making sure everybody is getting what they want out of the company. —as told to Andrew Parks