How does a former medical doctor find her way to own and run three of Argentina’s most important wineries and seven vineyards stretching from Mendoza to Patagonia?
“Life is about change,” says Patricia Frueler Ortiz. Now one of Argentina’s leading wine professionals, and owner of Zolo, Tapiz and Wapisa wineries.
A 2000 trip from her native Buenos Aires to Mendoza with her husband and friends led Patricia to fall in love with winemaking and change the course of her career and life. Patricia went back to school to learn all she could about wine and the business of wine. With the guiding principal that “wine is made in the vineyards,” Patricia and her team of winemakers and agronomists identified the best terroirs throughout Mendoza and Patagonia and set up facilities there. Her winemaking team is led by famed former Petrus winemaker, Jean Claude Berrouet, and Fabian Valenzuela. Today, she is the first woman to be President of Bodegas de Argentina and one of the country’s top women in wine.
Patricia and her husband, Jorge, purchased their first winery from Kendall Jackson in 2002. It would become the Zolo winery and is located in Agrelo, Mendoza, commonly known as the “Land of Malbec.” Like all of her wineries, Zolo produces 100% estate-bottled wines from sustainably farmed vineyards. These are fruit-forward, approachable wines. For 16 years Zolo has been a leading Argentine brand in the U.S., and was named a Top 100 Best Buy from Wine Enthusiast. Vino del Sol, a 2020 Wine Star Award Nominee for Importer of the Year, has been the exclusive U.S. importer for Patricia’s wines since 2004.
After establishing Zolo, Patricia ventured into Mendoza’s Uco Valley, where she constructed the Tapiz winery in the San Pablo I.G. Her estate vineyards sit at 4,400 feet above sea level. Given San Pablo’s unique terroir, the wines are naturally elegant yet intense. Tapiz has become one of Argentina’s most awarded wineries. Tapiz’ Malbec Black Tears received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast.
Patricia’s latest adventure took her onto the Atlantic Coast of Patagonia. She and her winemaking team believe this untapped terroir, with its proximity to the ocean, unique climate and sandy soils, could create an entirely different style of Argentine wines. She built the Wapisa winery (Wapisa is the indigenous word for “whale,” which roam the nearby coast) and the initial results have been even better than expected. Wine Enthusiast awarded the Wapisa Malbec 91 points, and Master of Wine Tim Atkin stated this is “the new Argentina.” The winery, still the only producer in Coastal Patagonia, is currently experimenting with aging wines under the ocean.
More than just a wine professional, Patricia Frueler Ortiz gives back to her community and industry in many ways. She created social and economic programs for her workers, and her wineries proudly champion sustainable growing practices. In 2017, Bodega Tapiz received the Gold Medal in Sustainability at the 2017 B.R.I.T. International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing. Through Wapisa, Patricia also has partnered with the California Coastal Alliance for the preservation and conservation of whales living off the coast of Argentina.