Celebrating the Wine and Women of Ruca Malen

International Women’s Day encourages us to pause and honor the women in our lives and all over the world — those who have shaped history and those who are shaping what lies ahead. For Ruca Malen winery, this ethos permeates every facet of the wine-making process.

At the heart and soul of Ruca Malen wine are two trailblazing women: head winemaker Agustina Hanna and a legendary Mapuche woman. The story of the sustainable winery began with an indigenous woman’s fable of the past and continues with Hanna’s winemaking vision for the future. Ruca Malen tells this story in three chapters, or capítulos, through unique Argentine Malbec and other unexpected varietals.

The Past: ‘The House of the Young Woman’

The name and the spirit behind Ruca Malen wines were inspired by a legend of the Mapuche people, who are indigenous to southwest Argentina.

Legend has it that Mapuche women would walk with their heads down because they were scared to catch the eye of the local god. One day, a young Mapuche woman challenged this collective fear by raising her eyes and meeting the gaze of the god. Moved by the woman’s courage, the local god offered her a home, called ruca malen, which means “the house of the young woman” in the Mapuche language. The god also made the young woman an eternal promise: If she drank the nectar from the ground below, she could live forever.

Ruca Malen set out to honor the rich history and terroirs of Argentina with their Argentine Malbecs and other out-of-the-ordinary wine varieties. Today, Ruca Malen continues to pay tribute to the history of the Mapuche people and their indigenous story with fresh labels bearing the face of the mythical woman.

The Present: Agustina Hanna’s Winemaking

Agustina Hanna

Ruca Malen’s head winemaker, Agustina Hanna, began her winemaking career when she was just 19 years old. By age 30, she had become well acquainted with the Argentine wine world and had supervised harvest in the Somontano and Navarra regions of Spain, as well as the Provence region of France.

Hanna joined Ruca Malen as head winemaker in 2020, leading the winemaking team with her innovative spirit to refresh the winery’s portfolio with female-forward values, fruit-centric wines that honor a sense of place, and a commitment to sustainability.

“Being part of this amazing work team and expanding on what is being done at Ruca Malen is a source of both pride and enthusiasm,” Hanna says. “My goal, starting with the 2021 harvest, has been to bring creativity to the challenge of making fresh, pure, and elegant wines. An additional goal is to ensure each wine has its own identity, focusing not only on the terroir but also on each process.”

Hanna’s leadership has driven powerful change at Ruca Malen. “For me, the key is to start with the very best raw material, understand its potential, and then closely examine every detail to make one-of-a-kind, transparent wine,” she says.

The Future: Ruca Malen’s Distinctive Portfolio

Unlike other leading Argentine wines, Ruca Malen wine is not produced on a large scale. Instead, the wines are handcrafted and treated in ways that align with the individual properties of each harvest.

Agustina Hanna has led the Ruca Malen team in expanding vineyard sites in the Uco Valley and Lujan de Coyo near the Andes Mountain Range. She leads Ruca Malen not only in honoring the micro-terroirs of these areas but also in maintaining the commitment to land conservation and sustainable practices.

Hanna has led the team to experiment with production techniques in the aging, blending, and fermentation processes. Each Malbec offering begins with springtime grape harvests and brief cold maceration periods, but they are aged in different containers: Capítulo Uno in stainless steel tanks, Capítulo Dos in French oak barrels, and Capítulo Tres in concrete amphoras. Additionally, the winery produces an organic Malbec, part of Capítulo Dos, that delights with aromas of plums and black fruits, complemented by a bouquet of herbs and wildflowers on the nose.

Ruca Malen also creates wines in varietals that are not usually found among Argentine wines, like Petite Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon.

The resulting wines are beloved among sommeliers and everyday wine drinkers alike. Ruca Malen wines are now being offered in the largest and most diverse selection that has ever been available in the United States market.

The legendary history and lively portfolio of Ruca Malen wines are enriched by the women behind the label. For International Women’s Day, let’s raise a glass of Ruca Malen wine to celebrate Agustina Hanna, the Mapuche women, and all women who challenge fear and buck tradition.

This article is sponsored by Ruca Malen.