Yesterday, we had the great pleasure of visiting two businesses that are both very conscious of their environmental impact. The first was Laur, an olive oil producer just outside of Mendoza. Laur has several hectares of six different types of olive trees, some that only grow in South America. They use these olives to make a blended olive oil in extra virgin, virgin and common.
Laur has a factory to produce its olive oil. We had a tour of the “museum,” which was their old factory. Up until 20 years ago, they used the machines in the museum to make olive oil. Today, they have machines sent from Europe to make the process more efficient, but they are the only olive oil producer in the region that uses this technology.
Their entire process involves many sustainable practices. First, they use left over water that they drain from the olives to water the olive trees, so they waste no water. The water is naturally high in potassium, so it makes for great fertilizer. Then, they take any leftover olive oil to a biofuel manufacturer to be made into biofuel.
The owners of this factory also own a local winery, so they share resources and reuse items between the two businesses. For example, the winery uses French oak barrels to age its best wines, but the barrels are very expensive and can be used several more times for lower quality wines or other products. So, after the first use of the barrels, the winery sends the barrels and left over smushed grapes to the olive oil factory, where they are turned into balsamic vinegar. Who knew balsamic vinegar was made out of grapes? Not me! But yes, this goes to show that this company has really thought of how to best use its resources and stay sustainable.
The second company we visited was only a few kilometers down the road, Almacen del Sur (an amazing property that reminded me of a movie scene!). This company has a farm, factory and restaurant that makes every high end product they sell right on the property. We had a beautiful tapas lunch that must have had upwards of 100 different herbs, vegetables, fruits and meats. We were amazed that all of it could be made right on one property. Unfortunately with the price of the dollar, Almacen del Sur had to close its factory this year and try to sell its inventory, and they may have to close entirely if the dollar does not begin to gain value again soon.
We did get to see some of their different methods for staying sustainable. The coolest thing I saw was how they dry the vegetables that they make into delicious paste. They use no energy, only the sun. Lucky for them, the area has 300 days of sunshine!
After a four hour plane ride, we are now in Iguacu, on the border of Paraguay and Brazil, and we are heading to the falls tomorrow. I'll be sure to keep writing every day to keep you all updated! Buenos noches!