At just 30 years old, and with 11 vintages already under her belt, Agustina Hanna, new Head Winemaker at Bodega Ruca Malen, is determined to make her mark. After a string of vintages in her home country, as well as France and Spain, she went to work with some of the most prestigious estates in Argentina, gaining vital experience along the way. Spirited, she is the “young lady in her house”, with the vision and commitment to create elegant wines with a sense of place.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. How did you end up working in the wine industry?
When I was 9 years old, I visited a winery in full harvest during a school trip. It was amazing, and that place felt as if it was Disneyland at the time! I can still remember the music of a busy winery, the pretty aromas in the air, and how everyone was working as a team, with a lot of enthusiasm. It was my first introduction to the wine world. At that very moment, I knew it was for me.
Today, many years after, I can say that every step in my career is echoing with what I felt that day: wine was, is and always will be my passion!
Who has inspired you, either within the wine industry or in your day-to-day life? Has there been a particular experience or encounter that has influenced your journey?
My mother is my day-to-day example in life. She really is the woman I look up to, as she never gives up. She interrupted her law studies when she got pregnant. And after raising 4 children, she was able to restart her studies. This showed us all that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Now, after a lot of sacrifices, she is a judge. She is an amazing mother and a great professional, an example for me and many other women. It shows us that we all have the ability to succeed in both roles.
Within my professional field, I have been extremely lucky to have been surrounded by great teachers. They taught me that if you are passionate, respectful and humble, and take on any role with responsibility and care; then you have all the tools to be successful.
What is it like being a winemaker in your region and country? Are there any factors unique to this place that you would like to expose?
One of the things I really love about winemaking in Argentina, is the importance of relationships. Being all passionate about what we do, we understand that we need to work as a team to promote our wines and help the Argentinean wine industry to continue to grow. All of us share the same philosophy, and what really matters is how responsible and professional each person is. As a result, we do often help each other, exchanging knowledge and ideas in different groups, and communicating about wines of Argentina as a team.
I do also enjoy the wide diversity of our regions; and all the microclimates and soils we find throughout Argentina. It is a place where we can make amazing wines all the way from the North to the South. This is especially true with Malbec, a varietal that shows many different expressions depending on the terroir where it was grown, really proving that Malbec thrives here.
What have been your greatest challenges in the industry?
I started working when I was 19, so it was difficult at the beginning. Not only was I young, and a girl, but also, everyone used to tell me that I had a babyface. I felt as if people did not take me seriously. As a result, I had to prove my abilities through hard work and determination.
Today, my biggest challenge is to lead Bodega Ruca Malen’s winery in a new direction, in a view to modernize slightly our portfolio. I have to guide my team, by keeping the quality at the core of everything we do. And we hope that many new consumers will enjoy our wines.
We just came out of over a year of pandemic. What have been your go-to red and/or white wines to survive, and why?
What a tough time for the world we live in! I am convinced that many people increased their consumption during lockdown. As I did too 😊 Coming from Argentina, my go-to red would be a Malbec. It is so versatile! For example, a light, unoaked, fruit-forward style is perfect for sipping when you’re on the sofa reading a book (or flicking through Instagram). While a barrel-aged, oaked Malbec is so complex and food friendly; it pairs brilliantly with a steak, and I personally love it with pasta.
For the white option, I have increasingly paid more attention to Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends – it is a refreshing style, combining a citric profile together with an elegant texture. And we -at Ruca Malen- are going to launch our own iteration very soon on the market! So please, watch this space!
What will we find you doing when you’re not in the vineyard or making wine?
When I’m not working, you will always find me spending time with friends and family. I also enjoy reading a lot, I do pilates and, on weekends, I like to escape to the mountains and re-connect with nature.
Which style of wine will you be opening to toast International Women’s Day on 8th March?
I will be opening a very special Malbec blend that I have at home, and which combines Malbecs from various regions across Argentina. Each region displays a different expression of this brilliant variety and, when put together, the final wine is simply amazing.
I believe that Malbec has a lot in common with women. In fact, we are all the same, yet we all have our differences and subtleties; that makes us all unique and gives us a reason to be celebrated!