Owning a Vineyard of One's Own

Any host can pour a great vintage at a dinner party. But how many can say, "Try this 2007 Cabernet-Syrah blend from my private estate in Argentina"? A growing number of dabblers are buying pieces of vineyards and making their own wines. Private Vineyard Estates, a 265-hectare project in Mendoza's Uco Valley, allows wannabe winemakers to fulfill their dreams by capitalizing on the region's low-cost, high-quality production infrastructure. "The response has been phenomenal," says Michael Evans, a former U.S. tech executive who founded the company in 2006. "You can create better-tasting and better-priced wines in Argentina than in any part of the world."

For $145,000 per hectare—a bargain compared with the $720,000-per-hectare starting price in Napa—an amateur vintner can choose the grapes, formulate irrigation and growing techniques, and even create the artwork for the bottles' label. Evans's company, The Vines of Mendoza, handles the harvest, production, bottling and shipping. More than 50 U.S. and European owners have already planted grapes and are eagerly awaiting their first yields, including Wolfgang Puck, who plans to sell his Argentine vinos at his U.S. restaurants.

At least two other Mendoza-based companies are offering similar services: Villa Dolce Vita is constructing a "wine lifestyle" community with Mediterranean-like homes, each with its own vineyard. And Santa Maria de los Andes has plots ranging from one to seven hectares available for private houses and vineyards in the Luján de Cujo region. Nothing beats uncorking a bottle of one's own.