What a place, what a location and what a drive to get there! Not far from the small village of Molinos in the region of Salta is the Colome winery and its vineyards. Donald Hess knows his wine and bought this very old, very high vineyard to add the unique characteristics of these grapes to his portfolio.
Not only is this the highest vineyard in the world, it is also the oldest in continuous operation, with the original site dating back to 1831. The winery itself is located at around 2200 meters but the vines are growing at between 1700 meters (5577 feet) and 3111 meters (10207 feet) above sea level. This high altitude, light intensity, temperature range and terroir all make the wine unique.
So we went to take a look, and taste, and include this visit in our “High Altitude Wine Tour“. Feel free to visit our Facebook Album for a few photos of the afternoon at Colome. The roads around this region are spectacular, many are dirt roads through rugged mountains and huge cacti.
The winery is very well set up for visits but be aware that we should plan well ahead as the James Turrell Museum (click the link to see the video) only has a certain number of visitors per day, and this museum is a real treat while at the vineyard so should not be missed. It is a surreal experience contrasting heavily with what you experience outside.
On our high altitude wine tour we would normally have you lunch at the Tacuil Winery but on some occasions it may be that we eat at Colome, as we did this time. There are several elements to the visit and the order you do them in will vary according to arrival time and other guests. After a welcome glass of wine from the Colome range there is the visit to the winery itself, a guide will show you the equipment used during wine production, storage, ageing, bottling and packaging. You will see some of the vats and barrels, and the whole winery is surrounded by vines of course.
There is a short video explaining the Hess story and the development of this unique vineyard. Then there is the visit to the museum which is very well explained in the video link above. If you are having lunch the experience is very pleasant sat on the terrace surrounded by vines with views of the mountains. If you have had lunch beforehand then a place on this terrace with a glass or two of wine is also perfect. Make sure you try a couple of different wines, maybe buy a couple of bottles to take home or drink on the rest of the trip.