The 5th biggest wine producer worldwide, Argentina has been making fine wines since the16th century. Argentinian wines have their origins in Spain, with vine cuttings having been brought to South America during the Spanish colonisation. In the past, Argentine winemakers had a lot more interest in producing in quality rather than quality, however during the 1990s, the lucrative possibilities of the export market promoted an improvement in the quality of the wines being produced with the result that Argentina is now South America’s most prevalent wine exporter.
Argentina’s key wine regions include the provinces of La Rioja, San Juan, Rio Negro, Salta, Catamarca and Mendoza. The southern Buenos Aires region has also recently begun producing wine, however over half of the country’s production comes from the Mendoza Province. One of the main reasons why Argentina produces so much wine is because of the low humidity and high altitudes of the country’s primary wine producing areas, since they face very few problems with mould, fungi, insects and grape diseases which so often affect vineyards. This means that there is rarely any need for pesticides so organic wines are easily produced.
Argentinian wine producers grow a number of grape varieties which reflect the immigrant groups of the country. Malbec grapes were brought by the French, and are used in the making of most of the best known wines from this country. Bonarda vines were brought by the Italians and Torrontes grapes were indigenous to Argentina, being mainly found in San Juan, Salta and La Rioja. This grape produces aromatic white wines which have a delicious flavour. Other international grape varieties such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are now being planted in the country, although they are not widespread yet.
Wine is so popular as a drink in Argentina that the government actually declared it to be the country’s national drink in 2010.