Alumnae wine down in Mendoza
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 23:02
For four Miami university alumnae, red and white does not just represent their alma mater; it also represents their business, Slantwalk Wine.
Sarah Hannibal, Paula Tordella Hawthorne, Mara Gloor and Kerri Tordella Rygiel decided to leave the suburbs of Chicago and take a spontaneous trip to Mendoza, Argentina. While there, the four women met two American entrepreneurs, David Garrett and Michael Evans, who were in the process of starting a wine bar.
A year later, the men partnered with Argentinean Pablo Giminez-Rilli back in Mendoza and bought 200 acres of raw land, splitting it up into small vineyards.
Once the men sold all 200 acres, they bought 400 more; creating 90 small vineyards, a winery and a 5-Star spa/hotel and restaurant called The Vines of Mendoza, according to Hannibal.
“We were offered the opportunity to buy one [vineyard] in early 2007 and bought four acres when there was nothing but scrappy land near the [Andes] mountains,” Hannibal, director of finance and compliance, said.
Hannibal said when the opportunity arose, they were naïve about the process, but have learned a great deal about good wine and owning their own business. Hannibal said the culture as well as the rich wines of Mendoza is what inspired them.
Gloor, Hannibal and Tordella Rygiel graduated from Miami in 1993, and in 1995, Kerri’s sister Paula Tordella graduated. Hannibal said their unforgettable time at Miami and shared appreciation for their Alma Mater was the inspiration for the name of their wine, Slantwalk Wine.
“We also could link the name to our journey on the unbeaten path,” Hannibal said. “Things never seemed to go easily with this venture… [it was] never a straight line.”
The women’s experience was not short or inexpensive. According to Hannibal, each year when they farm the land and make the wine, each woman pays 25 percent of the cost. It was not until 2010 when they had enough grapes to harvest.
“We planted the grapes and grew them for three years before we had a harvest in 2010,” Hannibal said, “We are now selling our second vintage (2011) and the grapes are only getting better from year to year.”
Hannibal explained a second vintage is the second batch of wine produced by Slantwalk Wine. The wine is a Malbec, which is a full-bodied red wine.
According to Hannibal, their first harvest produced 3,600 bottles, 200 cases of Slantwalk and 100 cases of Slantwalk 4 Barrel. Hannibal said they could increase production if demand for the product is there. For the March 2013 harvest, Slantwalk Wine is planning to produce 350 cases, 4,200 bottles, and will produce its first white wine.
Slantwalk Malbec is sold in many locations in Oxford, including Will’s Pizza, Quarterbarrel, 45 East Bar & Grill, Dipaulo’s and Main Street Gourmet.
Slantwalk Wine is served through Carillon Catering, and at Marcum Conference Center. The wine is sold at many other retails around Ohio, as well as a few places in Kentucky.