Williamsburg Winery’s Winemaker Goes to Argentina to Craft Special Wine

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Williamsburg Winery Winemaker Matthew Meyer at work in Argentina producing his wine. (Courtesy Williamsburg Winery)
Matthew Meyer, Williamsburg Winery’s winemaker, at work in Argentina producing his wine. (Courtesy Williamsburg Winery)

In the second half of 2016, customers of the Williamsburg Winery will have a chance to enjoy a classic Malbec made in Argentina by the winery’s winemaker, Matthew Meyer.

Meyer, who has been winemaker at the winery since 2002, recently spent several weeks in the South American country, where he partnered with a winery to produce an as-of-yet-unnamed Malbec.

A Malbec is a red wine often produced in Argentina, and it is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., Meyer said.

Argentina is an especially attractive place to produce wine for Meyer as it does not struggle with phylloxera as much of the rest of the world does. Phylloxera are small insects that feed on grape vines, forcing farmers in many places to use a different rootstock for their grapes. In Argentina, the rootstock natural to Malbec grapes can be used.

“In Argentina, it’s natural,” Meyer said. “It has its own rootstock.”

And that means good, natural wine.

Meyer came up with the idea to make a wine in Argentina a few years ago, when he was attending the London International Wine Festival. He was chatting with wine educator Steven Spurrier and told him he was going to try a Malbec, prompting Spurier to point out the Apogeo from Argentina’s A16 Winery.

He tried the wine and loved it, which led to conversations with Gerardo Cartelone, the owner of A16. Meyer then visited him in Argentina, and Cartelone came to James City County to check out the Williamsburg Winery.

That friendship led to Meyer getting the chance to go stay near the A16 Winery, where he went almost everyday for much of April and part of May to produce his wine. They used classic methods of production, eschewing pumps and other modern technology in favor of hand sorting and pressing the grapes.

“In Argentina because of the way they’re setup, it’s a much more selective and gentler process,” he said.

The wine is now aging in barrels, and he will return to Argentina in April or May of next year to determine if the wine is ready to bottle.

He anticipates it will be ready to sell in James City County in the second half of 2016.

“It’ll be a very classic Malbec,” Meyer said of the wine, which means it will have a deep color and a fruity flavor.

The wine will first be offered to members of the winery’s Wine Club, but then it will be opened up for sale to the general public. Meyer anticipates there will be about 300 cases of the wine in total.

In the meantime, the winery will soon begin selling bottles of A16’s Apogeo. That wine will cost $28 per bottle when it goes on sale.