The leading house Catena Zapata has been active in Argentinian viticulture for 4 generations. Bodega Catena Zapata was founded by Nicola Catena who left Italy by sailing ship to Argentina in 1898. He eventually ended up in Mendoza and planted his first vineyard here in 1902 with the grape variety Malbec. His son, Domingo, inherited the winery and realized his father's dream of becoming one of the greatest vineyard owners in Mendoza.
In the 1960s, the winery went through a difficult period due to the poor economy and rising inflation. Nicolás Catena, Domingo's son with an economics degree, took over in the mid-1960s and concentrated on expanding distribution in Argentina. He sold the table wine producing winery and kept only Bodegas Esmeralda, the winery of fine wines.
Argentina was known at the time as a bulk wine producing country and Nicolás was therefore considered crazy. But he insisted on looking for the best locations to plant vineyards, including in Gualtallary at high altitudes. In the 1980s he started to plant the grape varieties Chardonnay and Malbec. According to his own vineyard manager, the latter grape would never ripen here, but fortunately for Nicolás he did.
It took him five years before he was completely satisfied with the Malbec grape in the 60-year-old Angélica vineyard for the production of the Catena Malbec in 1994. A little later he started producing the Catena Alta wines, from the best plots. from its vineyards. He also grew many clones of the Malbec and managed to find the most suitable vineyard for each of them.
In the late 90s he started making some top cuvées which he called Catena Zapata (after the name of his mother Angélica Zapata). These wines are produced exclusively in exceptionally good years. Bodega Catena Zapata produces five different lines, mostly from vineyards at an altitude of 900 meters or more: Catena Zapata, Catena Alta, Catena, Alamos and Argento.