The Calchaqui Valley, a sub-region located in the north-west of Argentina, is home to Bodegas El Esteco, built at 1,800 metres above sea level among prime vineyards planted on a stretch of desert land. Here the sandy alluvial soils are nutritionally poor, but almost ever present sunshine, low humidity and a big swing between daytime and nighttime temperatures make for an excellent place to grow high-quality grapes.
El Esteco owns 1,000 hectares of drip-irrigated vineyards here, producing a range of wines. Founded by French emigrés and pioneering winemakers in the valley David and Salvador Michel in 1892, it was for many decades called Michel Torino and is now one of the most important producers in the region.
The name El Esteco comes from a legendarily wealthy city supposedly buried by an earthquake in 1692, and Amaru is one of the gods of the local Indian culture who inhabited the valleys. This creature, represented by a ‘flying snake’, symbolises the water from the mountains which brought fertility to the Calchaqui soils and connected the people to their gods.