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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for May 12, 2000


Winery of the Week

Trouble at Telmo


New York Times, June 6, 1990—There is no reason that Argentina should not be among the world's premium wine producers. But for 40 years this land has been cut off from modern technology. For example, by law, Argentine products must be used in preference to better imports. Only after prolonged, costly battles with the bureaucracy have wineries finally gotten permission to buy European and American wine presses, oak barrels, etc.

Then, the ravages of inflation are everywhere. What was meant to be one of the most beautiful wineries in the world, San Telmo, in Mendoza, is a half-built monument to fiscal [difficulties]. It is a partly-finished architectural marvel sitting in a sea of mud, surrounded by rusting piles of building materials with which it was to be finished ten years ago.

And yet, San Telmo produces good wines, some of which can be found in the United States. (by Frank Prial)

The Rest of the Story

Greg Fowler  
Good news! San Telmo now makes even better wines, and you can buy them in the U.S.A. without leaving home; just order via

What changed? Well, Seagram teamed with San Telmo. The sea of mud is gone. Production is humming along at 300,000 cases a year. Seagram enologists Greg Fowler, (pictured), and Paul Hobbs joined forces with the winemaker who managed to make those good wines even in difficult times. He's been with San Telmo for 20 years, Esteban Castel, trained in both Germany and Argentina. on the Internet

Some years ago I wrote an article titled "Peter the Great". Peter Granoff, with a fantastic palate and memory, was the masterful sommelier at a stylish S.F. restaurant.

Happily, he's moved on to become senior vice president of internet marketing concern. If you have questions, contact Laura Grams at (650) 919-1975, x-315, or use

The Wines

This month there are three reds available, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon...all at a bargain $10. Start with Argentina's most respected varietal wine, Malbec.

This summer San Telmo wines will begin to appear in your wine shop as well. and about that time, you'll find a new-release Chardonnay, also at $10.

Postscript—The Name Game

Whence San Telmo? It's a trendy Buenos Aires district, noted for its artists and the dance that was created there...The Tango!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created May 2000