Rogue Vine is a project led by Leo Erazo, winemaker at Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoza, Argentina, and Justin Decker. They make wines from two different subregions of the Itata Valley. All the vineyards are composed of hillside, dry-farmed bush vines that are a minimum of 60 years old; some are older than 300 years. The soils are primarily composed of granite with a mix of clay and quartz. The winemaking is simple and employs native yeast, old barrels, no corrections, and minimal sulfur prior to bottling. Itata Valley’s viticulture is primarily practiced through horse plowing and hand farming. Rogue Vine’s ethos is to promote the rich history of this long neglected and local farming community.
About Itata: Itata Valley was once a very famous wine-producing region. The first vineyards in Itata were planted around the 1500s near the bay of Concepción. Today, however, the Itata Valley represents a forgotten viticulture region in Chile.
The first vineyards in Itata were planted around the 1500s near the bay of Concepción. The Spanish planted in this region because the granite soil allowed the vines to survive without irrigation. Thus this valley is primarily dry-farmed bush vines. The viticulture of the Itata lost its fame around the 1800s. In Chile, in more central regions, the change to the vertical shoot positioning, the long rows, the technology of irrigation, vineyards planted in plane soils which was easier to mechanize and manage, new varieties, less evident vintage effect and of course closer to the center of consumption, caused that the Itata terroir to be left behind. The Chilean wine industry moved to central Chile. In contrast to this, the farms in Itata got smaller and smaller. The division of the land between families created a lot of vineyards that are between 3 to 5 ha. Today the amount of vineyards in Itata is constantly decreasing. An increasing pressure to plant pine trees and eucalyptus trees constantly threatens the old vineyards.
Despite all of these problems, that which keeps the viticulture alive in Itata is something amazing: it is relationship between the people and their vineyards. Despite this constant pressure, some vignerons still remain loyal to what they grew up with: the vineyard and the respect for the terroir. The fact that the vines in Itata can live 60-100-120 years means something. They have found a balance with the environment and with the vigneron.
Six Producers to Watch by Decanter 10/2016
"Founded in 2008 by Leonardo Erazo (also winemaker at Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoza, Argentina), joined by business partner Justin Decker in 2011. Rogue Vine currently produces 1,500 bottles using custom-made concrete tanks. Erazo spent years working and studying viticulture in South Africa's Swartland region, an experience that has clearly influenced him and his love of old, dry-farmed bush vines. As well as Cinsault and Moscatel, the excellent El Insolente Carignan, Macho Anciano Malbec and Super Itata Semillon deserve special mention."