Having enjoyed wine and imbibing on a semi-regular basis for the past fifty years or so, a side-benefit has been both learning a great deal and learning that I still know very little. But I bought vineyard land anyway. After clearing and leveling the land, putting in irrigation and trellising, and planting baby grapevine shoots, we’re now growing and selling lovely malbec grapes. I took this all on as I was turning age 70.– Dave Felton
famous due to its luscious flavors
It all began when I was looking for good vineyard land at an approachable price. I found grape-growing real estate on the west coast of the United States overly expensive. But then I began chatting with a friend about Argentina’s Mendoza wine region. I knew the area, as well as the malbec grape. Argentine malbec has become famous due to its luscious flavors when grown in the nutrient-rich alluvial plains which flow down from the towering Andes to the west. And the price sounded right. So, following some extensive due diligence, I became an Argentine landowner.
Now that’s a rather big leap, especially for an older fellow from the northern hemisphere. But, in Latin America, passion rules. I had become passionate. So we hired a good US attorney, who advised that we hire a good Argentine attorney. We located and bought land in the Uco Valley, approximately fifty miles south of the town of Mendoza, in an area surrounded by flourishing vineyards. And as we embarked on this project, I recognized that it all was becoming rather expensive.
We decided to buy raw vineyard land rather than spend considerably more to buy someone else’s already-flourishing vineyard. Still, once cleared, irrigated, trellised and planted, it would take at least five or six years before we’d have “estate” grapes that either could be sold or made into good wine.
…Be Years Before We’d Have Grapes That Could Be Made Into Wine
Remember that word passionate? I wanted my own wine. And, given my age, it might be better to have it soon. Therefore, I would have to buy grapes and somehow blend those grapes into a lovely combination. And after a suitable time in a fine oak barrel, I’d bottle that lovely blend, cork it, label it, box it and ship it back to my home in the United States. Yes, expensive.
It all worked. After purchasing the land in 2017, I also began buying the juice which would go into our first blend. Working with a professional winemaker over a long afternoon, I decided upon a blend of 70% malbec / 20% merlot / 10% cabernet franc grapes, which we made into the 2016 vintage of Felton Family Farms “C-Cubed”. It turned out quite well. (Praise the heavens).
I’ve since returned regularly to our vineyard where, as of 2022, my six year old vines are stretching toward the sky, some six feet tall and producing clusters of beautiful malbec grapes. We’ve now blended six different vintages using purchased grapes, including our most recent 2021 FFF C-Cubed blended in late 2022.
Each of our six vintages has been a different blend of malbec-focused red grapes. We’ve used as much as 70% malbec in the blends and as little as 50%. We’ve tried blending, in different percentages, with malbec, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot and syrah. Originally, I had planned on only using the great grapes found in “Bordeaux” blends. But, beginning with the 2017 vintage, I found that the syrah juice was superb, and I couldn’t ignore this “Rhone” grape. I’ve since used a portion of syrah in a number of our vintages. And the resulting C-Cubed has been better for it.
Each Vintage Of C-Cubed Is A Malbec-Led Red Blend
Our vineyard is still young, and we can’t know what the future will bring. But we have three interested adult children – daughters Kai & Casey, and son Chris, plus grandchildren Weston & Sophie – who plan on joining us on future visits to the vineyard. Eventually, they’ll be making the decisions concerning FFF & C-Cubed. In the meantime, we expect to continue to buy juice from the many vineyards all around us to blend into the best combination of flavors we can find.
It’s been great fun. I use a local Argentine wine cooperative near our vineyard to do all the hard work on the land. Yes, that’s expensive. My only serious professional involvement has been the time doing the actual blending for each vintage. We originally only gave away the wine to family, friends and non-profits, not selling any of the earlier vintages, but simply sharing. In 2022-2023, we are planning to introduce a second C-Cubed, using the famous Argentine white grape, torrontés. And we are beginning to sell the wine to local restaurants and clubs in Southern California.
PROPRIETOR OF FELTON FAMILY FARMS IN ARGENTINA’S UCO VALLEY
Dave Felton is the former global chairman of the London-based International Wine & Food Society, the largest independent gourmet dining organization in the world with over 6000 members in 30 countries. Following his term of chairman, he served for five years as the Society’s Honorary President, an ambassadorial role. He and wife Mitsuko traveled regularly to visit many of the 130 branches in both hemispheres. In recent years, their travel plans regularly have found them greeting a broad cross-section of old friends from around the world and tasting an equally broad collection of wines.