The wine industry in Argentina is the fifth largest in the world. Together with Argentine cooking, Argentine wine is rooted in Spanish influences. Though heavily influenced by Spain, the Argentine wine industry has developed its own qualities and characteristics that make it distinct.
History of Winemaking in Argentina
Winemaking was introduced to the Americas at the time that it was colonized by the European powers. The practice of viticulture was further advanced by the Christian missionaries who established vineyards as they were preaching to the local population. It was in 1556 that the first vineyard in Argentina was established. This was done by Father Juan Cedrón who brought cuttings from the Chilean Central Valley to what are now the wine regions of San Juan and Mendoza. Experts believe that cuttings that were brought over by Father Cedrón would turn out to be the forerunner of the Criolla Chica variety which would be the main variety of the Argentine wine industry for more than three centuries.
The first commercial vineyard was established by the Jesuits in 1557 at Santiago del Estero. The vineyards ere soon expanded into other areas. The settlers and the missionaries started to create irrigation systems that can supply water to agriculture and to the vineyards that were being established.
Soon grapevine cuttings were brought over from France to be planted in Argentina. That was how the first Malbec was planted in the country. The winemaking industry as further helped by developments in the country such as the completion of the first railway that traversed Argentina.
Now the Argentine wine industry is starting to realize its potential. It is starting to export its products to significant markets like the United States and the United Kingdom.
Climate and Location
The major winemaking areas in Argentina can be found in the western part of the country mainly at the foothills of the Andes Mountain. Most of the areas known for winemaking have a semi-arid climate and has very low rainfall. One unique characteristic of these wine growing areas is how they are well-suited for organic viticulture because there is no need to spray pesticides.
The following are some of the major wine growing regions in Argentina:
• Luján de Cuyo
• Uco Valley
• San Juan
• La Rioja
Wines of Argentina
Argentina mainly produces red wine though there is also some significant white wine production. Malbec is by far the most widely planted red grape variety. Other common varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Syrah and Tempranillo. Since there was a huge influx of Italian immigrants into Argentina they also brought many grape varities from Italy. These include Barbera, Lambrusco, Nebbiolo, Raboso,SangioveseDolcetto and Freisa. The Pedro Giménez grape is by far the most common white grape planted in Argentina. It is related to the Pedro Ximénez grape that comes from Spain. Another common variety of white grape in Argentina is Torrontés Riojano.
Today there are more than 1,500 wineries in Argentina. They are continuously increasing quality control of their products with their eyes on exporting it to the rest of the world.