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by Amanda Barnes
The best thing about visiting a winery is seeing all the action as it happens: the grapes being picked in the vineyard, brought into the winery and then moving into the tanks where they start their incredible transformation into wine. Being among the hubbub of harvest is the most exciting moment of the year and gives you a profound understanding of how wine is made.
So what happens if you are visiting in January?
You are probably too early for this year’s vintage, and too late to see last year’s. Instead, your tour guide will tell what harvest is like and try to convey the excitement, the colours, the action. Storytelling can be wonderful, but seeing it for yourself takes the experience to a different level.
Renacer winery faced this same conundrum: how to show the excitement of harvest outside of the small time window when it is actually happening. Their solution was so innovative that they scooped the Great Wine Capitals Award for Innovation last year. The answer they found is virtual reality.
With a bank of high definition 360° images and videos, visitors can put on their VR goggles and take a look all around them and see the action of winemaking and the vines laden with grapes any time of the year. As you walk through the vineyard and winery, the guide stops at different VR lookout points where you put on your glasses and are instantly transported to a sunny, busy scene where harvest is in full swing.
It is innovative and fun, and most of all it helps get the message across and give visitors an understanding far greater than a traditional tour would.
One of my favourite wines from Renacer is actually quite an innovation of its own. Their Milamore red blend is made in a similar way to Amarone (using the appassimento method), whereby the freshly picked grapes are left to dry and shrivel, concentrating all the sugar and flavours. The result is a rich and full-bodied wine with ripe fruit notes.
Whether drinking it with a hearty meat dish or sipping it while indulging in chocolate, it is a wine that most people love. But it is also a wine that is difficult to explain, especially in Argentina where this method isn’t used anywhere else. This is where the VR experience really comes in handy, as visitors can see all the grapes drying all around them in a 360° virtual world.
The young team at Renacer aren’t shy of innovation, they are always creating a new experience for visitors - through wine, education, art and culture. Another staple experience at Renacer is their blending masterclass, whereby you become the winemaker for an afternoon and make your own corte of some of Argentina’s most emblematic grapes to later take home in your personally blended and branded wine bottle.
Sauntering through the visitors centre you might overhear their own curated music list to pair with their wines, or stumble across an elaborately-painted barrel from their art programme ‘Renacer Painted Edition’. Pop in on a weekend and there might be a few athletes stretching out on the lawn after one of Renacer’s wine and fitness sessions.
Every time I visit Renacer there is something new happening or different on offer. And this time, much to my joy on a cold winter’s morning, I was able to return to the warmth and excitement of the autumn harvest. Even if just for a moment.