The Felton Family Farms vineyard is nestled in at the foot of the Andes Mountains, in the famed Uco Valley, 53 miles southwest of the city of Mendoza. The Uco Valley, with more than 64,000 acres (26,000 hectares) of vineyards, is widely considered to be the best location for wine production in Argentina.
Grape vines planted in the Uco Valley are generally located between 2,300 feet and 4,600 feet above sea level, and Felton Family Farms is sited at an altitude of about 3900 feet. The elevation and location provide the wide daily temperature range (thermal amplitude) and diverse soil types for which the region is famous. Depending on altitude, location within the valley, and proximity to major rivers, the soil ranges from deep and stony to clay with boulders.
The Uco Valley is crossed by the Tunuyán and Las Tunas Rivers, which originate in the Andes and merge near the town of Tunuyán. The valley consists of three sub-regions from north to south – Tupungato, Tunuyán and San Carlos.
The soil in Uco Valley is of alluvial origin, and is the result of two major factors: water flowing from ancient rivers and glaciers; and volcanic activity in the Andes. The soil contains a considerable amount of pebbles and rocks of various sizes and comes from an ancient alluvial foundation covered by younger alluvial deposits.
Due to the flow of the Tunuyán River, these alluvial deposits are moving ”downstream” along the entire basin. The valley is shaped like a fan, with alluvial deposits from the Tunuyán River, starting at about 16,500 feet above sea level.
There are differences in the composition of soil from different layers of the soil profile. The topsoil ranges in depth from 2” (5 cm) to 40” (100 cm), which presents a varied retention capacity for water and nutrients, leading to differences in vine and root development, and, consequently, wine characteristics. Soils formed from sedimentary alluvium are brown to yellowish in color, medium-textured, and extend to the bedrock layer. Alluvial soils may contain river cobble, depending on the distance from the current or ancient riverbed.
The topsoil in the Felton Family Farms vineyard ranges from 20” to 35” deep and is comprised of 70-80% pebbles and rocks of various size and coarse particles of sand.
A low level of organic material in the soil, combined with its physical characteristics, naturally favor water drainage and limit the development of thin and absorbent roots. These factors affect the potential yield of grapevines, and may enable the production of highly concentrated, complex grapes.
In this region, thick-skinned grapes develop high brix (potential alcohol) levels, and need to be picked at the right time to avoid heavy fruit-forward, overripe aromas. Wines from these soils tend to be highly aromatic with medium acidity, and have high levels of polyphenols that provide the strength needed to handle a long aging process in oak barrels. This soil type is perfect for obtaining powerful & intense wines, and can be managed to produce a wide variety of styles.