At heart, Catena is a story about family. Family who poured their lives, passion and spirit into transforming scrub-laden desert into some of the most beautiful and unique vineyards in the world. Family that passed their knowledge from generation to generation, blending collective memory with state-of-the-art science from the new world of viticulture. Family who, through risk-taking, faith and a little luck, transformed their treasured Mendoza terroir into the fountainhead of the award-winning wines that carry the Catena name.
Catena was founded by Nicola Catena, who escaped famine in Europe by sailing from Italy to Argentina in 1898. Believing he had found the proverbial Promised Land in Mendoza, Nicola planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Nicola’s winemaking dream later passed to his son, Domingo, who developed the family winery into one of Mendoza’s largest vineyard holders. By the 1960s however, Catena was struggling. The Argentine economy was in shambles and inflation rates soared. This is when Domingo’s son Nicolás, a recent PhD graduate in Economics, took the reins of the family vineyards and wineries.
Nicolás Catena has been the quiet revolutionary in the Catena family history book. He charted the family’s path on the new frontier of winemaking, drawing on lessons learned from the land and in the classroom to challenge conventional wisdom. Initially, he concentrated on expanding distribution throughout Argentina during the tumultuous 1970s. After time spent in California’s Napa Valley, while employed as a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, the seed for a wine revolution was planted. Nicolás returned to Argentina with more vigor than ever before, driven to identify the best planting sites in Mendoza, and develop the most modern techniques to bring fine Argentine wine to the world stage.
The revolution continues with Nicolás’ daughter, Laura Catena. A practicing emergency-room physician, Laura joined her father’s quest to revolutionize Argentine wine in 1995. In 2001, she took over Catena’s research and development program, using her science background to further her father’s studies on the effects of altitude and soil on viticulture. By 2013, the program evolved to become the Catena Institute of Wine, committed to advancing and promoting wine knowledge for wine technicians and the wine community as a whole. Now, as the General Director and a pivotal leader at Bodega Catena Zapata, Laura Catena continues to spearhead the drive to create Argentine wines that stand among the best in the world.
As a testament to Catena’s dedication and high standards of excellence, the winery has been heavily awarded by some of the world’s most reputable wine publications. In 2016 alone, the Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2012 received a perfect 100-point score by James Suckling; Catena White Bones Chardonnay 2013 was named White Wine of the Year by Tim Atkin, MW; and Wines of Argentina awarded Nicolás Catena as the Argentine Wine Personality of the Past 10 Years. This list of accolades is sure to continue growing in the years to come.