Block by block: Planting Jardin Altamira

Amanda Barnes visits one of Mendoza’s fascinating new vineyards, Altos Las Hormigas’ Jardin Altamira, which is being planted by soil blocks. A version of this article was originally published on


There’s something quite fascinating about new vineyards being planted in Mendoza. Rather than the regular square blocks of vines, you are increasingly seeing vineyards being planted per soil type.

This makes for a rather irregular but beautiful maze-like pattern, and costs at least four times more to plant and maintain. However, wine producers including Altos Las Hormigas think the extra effort is worth it, as they can adapt their viticulture to the particular soils.

In this interview, I visited the vineyard with winemaker Federico Gambetta to learn why planting this way is creating their vision for the Malbec of the future.

“Our concept is to show how Malbec expresses itself differently in the different terroirs,” he explains. “So we take a soil map and put each block with a different kind of soil, which is irrigated and harvested in a different way and vinified differently. In this way, we can show how Malbec expresses itself differently in different plots and soils.”