The 20th century was a tumultuous time for Argentina. In the early 1900’s Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but this soon came to an end as a result of political and economic instability. Periods of dictatorship alternated with democracy, and economically, the country was prone to hyperinflation and currency devaluations. However, as the 21st century dawned Argentina seemed to find its footing with a more stable government and greater economic vitality. As we approach, the start of the third decade of the 21st century Argentina is open for business and for tourists who bring much needed hard currency. One of the many reasons tourists come to Argentina is for the wine as the wine industry has deep roots here.
Viticulture was introduced to Argentina during the period of Spanish colonization. In 1556, Father Juan Cedron established the first vineyard in Argentina using cuttings that came from the central valley of Chile. Other vineyards soon sprang up in the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza, which became the birthplace of the wine industry in Argentina. During the 1800s a provincial governor named Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had the first Malbec grape cuttings brought to the country, and even today Argentina is known mostly for its Malbec wines. The best wine growing regions in Argentina are in the western foothills of the Andes Mountains. However, the largest population centers were located in the east, near the capital of Buenos Aires. The distances involved made transporting wine difficult, and this helped to spur the construction of the first railways in the 1880s.
For most of the 20th century, Argentine wines were mainly consumed domestically and were considered not fit for export. A bout of hyperinflation in the 1980s led to a favorable currency exchange rate; as a result, Argentina began to focus on developing a wine export industry. By the end of the 20th century, Argentina was exporting more than three million gallons of wine a year to the United States and was well on its way to becoming a powerhouse in the global wine industry. Today there are over 1500 wineries in Argentina. The wine industry has expanded from Mendoza to now wines are produced about 1.5 hours from Mendoza in the Uco Valley as well as a bit more North East near Salta.
Most wineries in Argentina are located at varying altitudes in the foothills of the Andes and depend on either snowmelt from the high mountains or underground aquifers to keep their vineyards well-watered. Because of these locations, many vineyards are in high mountain valleys with spectacular snowcapped peaks providing a beautiful view in the background. Local villages offer opportunities to purchase traditional handicrafts and to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture that is modern Argentina. Many of the wineries have built accommodations on site and offer complete packages to explore their vineyards as well other vineyards throughout this region.
Under Argentine wine laws, if a grape name appears on the wine label, 100% of the wine must be composed of that variety. The early Argentine wine industry was dominated by pink skin grape varieties such as Cereza, Criolla Chica, and Criolla Grande, which still account for about a third of grapes planted today. These grapes have very high yields and produce inexpensive sweet red wines that are sold in bulk quantities domestically or exported. Nevertheless, the most famous wines today are produced from the Malbec grape. Malbec wine is characterized by deep color and intense fruity flavors with a velvety texture. The quality of the Malbec wines of Argentina has overshadowed their source regions in France and Argentina has become the leading producer of these varietals in the world. Roughly, 60% of wine production is in the form of red wines; the high temperatures of most regions contribute to soft, ripe tannins, and high alcohol content.
The Pedro Gimenez grape is the most widely planted white grape varietal in Argentina and is known for producing full-bodied wines with high alcohol levels. Other white grape varieties include Chenin blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Semillion, Ugni Blanc, and Vognier. The Torrontes variety produces some of the most distinctive white wines in Argentina, characterized by a floral Muscat-like aroma and spicy notes.
You can travel this region year around to experience the wines. Keep in mind their season is the opposite of the US season so traveling in our Winter is their peak growing season and our Spring is their Fall when the vineyard harvest is going on. The best way to get the is via Buenos Aires so stay a couple of days then head to Mendoza.
Are you a connoisseur of fine wines? Do you have a sense of adventure? Then an Argentine wine tour might be just the ticket! Contact Condor Tours & Travel today, we can help you plan every step of your dream vacation as you explore the exotic scenery and wonderful wines of beautiful Argentina! Our web site offers 6 different wine tour packages to fit just about any budget or we can customize a trip for you as well. Check out all your options at www.condortoursandtravel.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you plan your wine experience.