Lagarde artisan Argentine wines are enjoyed today all over the world thanks to Sofía Pescarmona’s taking command of the winery. Pescarmona left behind a high paying job and the convenience of working for a powerful family holdings company to take the reins of the business.
Lucila and Sofía Pescarmona.
Together with her sister Lucila (31)—who is nine years younger— they positioned Lagarde as a boutique winery that favors premium labels over massive volumes. The siblings have placed their wines among the best from Argentina for their quality, careful preparation, glamour, and elegance. They brought new impetus to the business acquired by their father’s family, Enrique Pescarmona, in 1974. The company was founded in 1897 in the province of Mendoza, a wine region par excellence, in west-central Argentina.
Sofía's passion for wine was stronger than her degrees in philosophy and international relations from Tufts University; stronger than the Master in Business Administration and the eight years of work in Buenos Aires in the telecommunications company IMPSAT, part of the Pescarmona group. So strong was her passion that she decided to move from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. Her sister, Lucia's story, follows a similar path. With a Masters degree in Law, she left her job at a New York law firm—because "she did not want a corporate life”—to handle the winery´s marketing and export operations.
The sisters childhood was spent between Buenos Aires, the United States, and the Mendoza vineyards, where they started drinking wine when they were very young. For children, “the sparkling water is 'painted' with a splash of wine and taken with meals. "At home, Coca-Cola was prohibited”, they recall, explaining that wine consumption by children is no taboo, and that is a daily part of the culture of Mendoza. In fact, Sofía’s children—Sabina (8) and Basilio (6)—continue the lifestyle and "are in permanent contact with nature and the vineyards."
With the premise that "wine is a way of looking at the world," Lucila and Sofía enjoy living by the vineyard at the foot of the Andes, traveling the world to present their products at trade fairs, and participating in the glamorous events organized by the wine industry. Today, Lagarde wines are consumed in more than 32 countries because they have managed to adapt to the different international markets—for example, "in England, people don’t drink wine with food”—and a greater participation in oenological fairs.
"We are on every continent except Africa," explains Sofía (40) to azureazure.com, and highlights the rapid penetration in Asia, having reached Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines, among other countries. And of course, Dubai, a city that is known "for having the best of everything, and the higher ranges of our wines," she remarks.
This amazing venture presented several risks. The young general manager decided to revive the family winery in 2001 when the country was going through one of its worst economic and social crises. "The manager was gone, I saw an opportunity and I took the plunge. I transformed the company, personally handling the quality and hired a new winemaker as well as young employees". Lagarde´s sales rose meteorically, from $250,000 to $5 million at a rate of one million liters of wine annually. "We do not produce more because we want to remain artisanal and able to produce limited batches," says Sofía.
Lagarde wines are characterized as gastronomic wines, ideal to accompany all types of meals and the traditional Argentine barbecue. All products in its four lines are made with grapes from their own vineyards and, although their prices are relatively high, the quality is excellent and the wines are considered "very classy".
The sisters are committed to a long-term business plan in pursuit of quality. "What we harvest today we see in three or four years." In addition, they continue with the innovative project initiated in the 1980s and 90s, to produce non-traditional varieties such as Viognier or Moscato Bianco.
Passionate about wine, the Pescarmona sisters drink products from around the world and say it is difficult to play favorites. Also, they do not believe that quality is defined by the countries of origin. For them, the only objective ranking is determined by sales and the current leaders are Spain, France, and Italy. ■
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