With wine projects on four continents, you would think that Argentine native, Alejandro Bulgheronihad wine flowing through his blood, or at least had grown up on a vineyard. This is not the case. Bulgheroni’s family owned cattle ranches in Argentina and the family fortune was actually made in energy; the international oil and gas industry. Bulgheroni’s father founded Bridas Corporation in 1948. It provided parts for the national oil industry in Argentina.
Alejandro Bulgheroni was born in Rufino, Santa Fe Province, Argentina, to a Spanish mother and an Italian father, also called Alejandro Bulgheroni. He was educated at the University of Buenos Aires, from where he obtained a degree in Industrial Engineering and went to work for his father when he was just 22.
He and his late brother, Carlos Bulgheroni (Carlos died of cancer in 2016) took over the company in 1985, eventually adding wind power and renewable energy to the portfolio. In 2011 they sold 50% to CNOOC, China’s state overseas oil company for $3.1 billion. In 2017, Bridas joined forces with BP to form the largest privately owned energy company in Argentina.
In the 1990’s, Bulgheroni bought a large property in Uruguay near the tony beach town of Punte del Este, an hour and a half from Montevideo, where he planted olive trees and built a wind farm. He also reached out to a friend with a long history in Argentina’s wine industry; Carlos Pulenta to talk about growing grapes on his property in Uruguay. Pulenta in turn cald his wine consultant Alberto Antonini and Bulgheroni’s first wine project was launched; Bodega Garzón. Bulgheroni didn’t stop there. He was hooked.
In a short time, Bulgheroni made several investments in wine projects from Argentina to Australia. Some of these projects started from scratch and others are centuries old. They all share a common denominator. The passion of Alejandro Bulgheroni.
Today, Bulgheroni’s wine projects span 21 estates in six countries.
According to Forbes, Alejandro Bulgheroni’s worth is estimated to be around $4.7 billion. One billion of that is invested in wine projects around the globe. In neighboring Argentina, the ventures include the Vistalba, Tomero, and Argento.
Bulgheroni’s California properties include Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate on Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain. Bulgheroni also owns The Bounty Hunter, a catalog of wines.
Bulgheroni also owns The Bounty Hunter, a catalog of wines. Bulgheroni also has investments in Tuscany, in Bordeaux with Chateau Suau and Chateau de Langalerie, and in Australia, where he has acquired nearly 120 acres of vineyards in the Barossa Valley with some over 100 years old. Alejandro Bulgheroni Family Vineyards’ U.S. volume is currently at about 100,000 cases.
Like many in the wine industry, Bulgheroni is completely aware that passion precedes profits. He knows that wine is slow at turning a profit. But he is hopeful that one day it will be a profitable business.
Unlike many in the wine industry, Bulgheroni does not imbibe in his wine projects. He admits he was never a big drinker but completely stopped twenty years ago when he married his second wife, Bettina.
However, lately he has started tasting the wines, wanting to know what others are experiencing. He fully understands the wine lifestyle and wants to leave his seven children something beautiful.
In early 2016, Bulgheroni hired Christian Wylie, a significant player in the South Ameriacan wine industry, to run Garzón. This was a huge step in demonstrating Bulgheroni’s commitment to the wine industry and the kind of player he wants to be. Wine production at Garzón reached 120,000 cases in 2017. And it’s growing fast. The decision to partner with Pacific Highway Wines and Spirits, who also import Giesen from New Zealand and Robert Oatley from Australia was a big step. Spreading the word about Garzón wines like the Tannat, Albariño and Sauvignon Blanc ($15-$20) in the U.S. as well as recently adding a Cabernet Franc, a rosé of Pinot Noir and a Marselan (a Cab Sauvignon/Grenache hybrid,.” The Garzón portfolio is making waves. Much like the famed surf region this Alejandro Bulgheroni project calls home.
Check out The Mark Wine Camp adventure to Garzón in this issue’s The Wine Life.