Source: Los Andes
By: Miguel Ángel Flores
"There is a better life, but it is much more expensive." No other postmodern old saying renews and reinvents itself every day like this one, influenced by the influx of dollars and investments aimed at those who possess them.
A millionaire multi-project beyond the reach of the average Mendocinian, but an alluring opportunity for foreigners, the project was developed by a businessman from Buenos Aires and an American investment group, and has already drawn to San Rafael a lot of investors from abroad.
Algodon Wine Estates is just a 3-hour drive from the capital city (Mendoza) and 8.8 miles from downtown San Rafael, and is an extension of the project born under the name Viñas del Golf, founded in 1995 by businessman and golf player Ricardo Jurado.
Viñas del Golf was first designed as a wine tourism project, with a focus on the winery, the vineyards and the golf course, but ended up becoming part of a broader group which, under a different brand after the arrival of IPG (InvestProperty Group), is already being advertised from its Fifth Avenue's headquarters in New York and some Old World countries such as Holland.
The first lots will be available from May 2009, but are already being sold. Prices make clear what the goal market is: Starting from around $86,000 per hectare for those looking to combine vineyards, walnut trees and olive trees of their own, up to a maximum over $264,000 for those choosing the wine-golf combo.
The alliance thrusting Algodon, with IPG as controlling partner claims to have invested $5 million to expand the property from 667 to1976.8 acres, with a business plan producing good results from the cosmopolitan city up in the North. Although most of the 301 lots that comprise Algodon will be ready for sale between May 2009 and 2010, presale of the first 40 lots started last August 18th. "This is the result of at least 6 trips structured as purchase-tours for Americans in 2007. Thirty of the largest lots are in the process of being sold, most of which are located next to vineyards and the golf course" points out Diego Coll -the company's tourism manager.
Leisure and business
You can choose different layouts and at the same per-hectare price range, depending on the intended combo. Owning one hectare with vineyards and fruit trees (olives, walnuts, plums and quince trees) in exchange for between $86,000 and $98,000 or just vineyards and access to the golf course ($197,000 to $264,000); or perhaps something a bit more modest, such as owning a hectare with walnut trees for production while indulging yourself with a game of polo ($160,000).
While regarding this investment as a productive one, you can either be a fruit or wine full producer in exchange of an expense compensation for the use of the land and/or winery -set among vineyards and greens-; or you can entrust the lot to the company for its management while receiving payment for the finished product.
So far, Americans and Dutchmen -in that order- are a majority among those who have reserved parcels. Though many feel inclined to farming (farm or estate + sports), as Mr. Coll claims, several investors "determined the surface area they wanted and will later choose the layout of their preference."
"However", he adds, as a marketing argument for wine lovers -"if you purchase your vineyard now, you can start the wine-making process in March."
Algodon is IPG's secong investment in Argentina. The first one was a boutique hotel in Recoleta. If this sale rate continues, the promoters expect to invest $65 million, during the next 5 years, in the execution of the four stages needed to complete the project.
The sight is aimed at attracting an increasing number of investors interested in lots combining vineyards and winery with high-class sporting activities such as polo, tennis and -obviously- golf, in addition to a country-style restaurant with typical meals, high-class accommodation and a lodge (an antique recycled house with luxury amenities).
As Ricardo Jurado claims, "between 60% and 70% of lot sales are intended for a foreign market. Nowadays, foreigners pick San Rafael as a place for their second residence". Hence, 50 condominium units are planned to be constructed amidst the golf courses.
Mr. Jurado gives details of the schedule for terms and deliveries. "The first 130 lots will be available for registration and commencement of construction by next May, fully finished and with vineyards in full production. The second stage, with around 120 extra lots, is scheduled to be available on the spring of 2010; while the third stage, to be set in the foothills of Sierra Pintada, is still unconfirmed and is projected for 2012."
Mendocinian architects Bormida & Yanzón work in the construction works of the main buildings (remodeling of the current winery and cave and construction of the tennis, polo and golf clubhouses).
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