Argentina is responsible for 45 percent of the production of wine in South America, and is the sixth-top wine producing country in the world. As of 2018, the country has over 489,000 acres of vineyards.
Vine cuttings were taken to South America during the colonization of the Americans by Spain, in 1557, and then again by Christian missionaries, giving Argentina a long history of grape growing and winemaking.
The vineyards of Argentina are located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, to the west. The snowmelt from the mountain assists with water needs, via ditches and canals, dug to store water in reservoirs for use when needed. Vineyards need to apply for government licenses to use the water.
The desert-like temperatures in Argentina are mitigated by planting vineyards at higher altitudes, as temperatures drop the farther up you go. Frost is not a worry in this country, but hurricane-force winds, known as Zonda, which come from the Andes, have been known to be an issue in the northwestern wine regions.
The wine growing in Argentina is broken up into three general regions – The North, Cuyo, and the Patagonia and Atlantic region. The North is comprised of Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, and Catamarca, and comprises nearly 15,000 vineyard acres in an area that is extreme, climatically. La Rioja, San Juan, and Mendoza, which make up the region known as Cuyo, represent over 464,000 acres, so over 90 percent of Argentina’s wine comes from this region. Lastly, the Patagonia and Atlantic region to the south covers La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, and Buenos Aires, and is a much cooler part of the country.
Of the 489,000 acres being cultivated in Argentina, 58 percent are red grapes, 18 percent are white grapes, and 24 percent are pink grapes. Yes, pink grapes! These are the Criolla grapes, with pink-tinted skins. As for red varieties, Bondara, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Tempranillo are the predominant grapes. The most-planted red grape is Malbec, representing 38 percent of the red grape plantings in the country. The leading white varieties planted in Argentina are Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillón, Torrontés, and Viognier.
City Vino will be hosting a virtual tasting of Argentinian wine on July 30th, at 7:00 pm. Our guest presenter will be Jeremy Sutton of Kysela Pere et Fils. For information about the tasting, click Virtual Tasting.