As it is peculiar with most history of Argentina, the story of its wine production is also an interesting one. Many years ago, an average of twenty-two gallons of wine was consumed per person every year. At that same period, an average of one to two gallons of wine was consumed per person every year in America. Also, the import of wine to America was almost non-existence.
Now, things have turned around as Argentina’s consumption of wine has drastically reduced to ten gallons from the original twenty gallons while that of America rose to 2.5 gallons. Several compelling factors, such as economic, cultural, and historical factors, brought about the exportation of Argentine wine to America.
The Start-up Of Wine Industry In Argentina
Grapes were brought into Argentina in four various ways. However, the story that has been severally told is that Argentina started manufacturing wine in the 16th century when vines were brought into the country from Spain by Spanish missionaries. Instead of the vines getting to Argentina as planned initially, some of them got into Chile, United States, and Peru. But luckily, due to people who loved wine in the country, some were able to get into Argentina.
The wine was manufactured in high quantity in Argentina, but the quality was nothing to write home about. Criolla manufactured a very unrefined wine, yet, it laid the foundation of the wine industry in Southern America for more than 300 years.
Great Changes To Wine Industry In Argentina
The wine produced today in Argentina can’t be compared to the unrefined wines they produced in the past. Amazingly, this significant change is greatly attributed to Chile (Argentina’s neighbor), who has contributed immensely to the high quality of wine now produced by Argentina.
Before Argentina underwent this drastic change in its wine quality, Chile has greatly succeeded in her winemaking. Chileans worked closely with winemakers in the United States with the US method of grape cultivation and winemaking. They were able to produce wines that were exportable as the wines met the taste of the English markets and Americas, most notably Malbec, although other grapes are popular.
Argentina’s winemakers were able to discern that their country can also produce quality and exportable wine and, as such, decided to give it a try. At this period, they were facing significant challenges such as military dictatorship and political unrest. The winemakers were also desperately in need of foreign currency to grow in exportation. They realized that manufacturing quality wine was a significant step to achieving this.
Argentina was able to increase its wine quality, and this captured the interest of America and Europeans companies who invested in them. As a result, the modern method of producing wine and the cultivation of grape was started. Experts in winemaking were also hired to expand the production of wine and also increase the quality. All these efforts put together by Argentina yielded great results as their wine sales, production, consumption, and quality of wine soared highly.
According to wine specialists, “to have good wine, it has to come from a good grape,” and this good grape has to come from an excellent vineyard. This cannot be true when it comes to Argentina’s wine as their best grape came from a vineyard that was cultivated in an unfavorable condition due to rocky soil and naturally dry climate. Due to these factors, they exhaust their energy cultivating smaller clusters of grapes, and this has resulted in these grapes not being watery but rather having concentrated flavors.
One of Argentina’s best known wines, Malbec, is famously grown in ‘unfavorable’ terroir – and can frequently be found growing in soils which would be considered as hostile in many old world countries. However, these conditions are frequently considered to be key in adding complexity to the wine – leading to some incredible flavors, and a renowed ability for Malbec food pairings to allow the complexity of the wine to accentuate other flavors.
It is a fact that wines manufactured from watery grapes are weak. This has made many wineries to always take precautionary measures during rainfall each year as too much rain can make their grapes watery. Luckily, vineyards in Andes (Argentina’s central wine region) have not experienced too much rain because the mountain, which is located at the edge of Andes, prevents the free flow of rain.
They are also able to curb irrigation with the use of out-of-date systems. These controls over-irrigation have enabled the grapes to have concentrated flavors. The winemakers also benefit from an arid climate, and this climate is so unfavorable to the pest that disturbs the vineyard. It is worthy to note that pests, irrigation, rainfall, and rots are not the only challenge faced by winemakers. They also experience hail fall in Mendoza due to nature. This has caused the wineries to set up nets to catch the hails as they fall and at the same time, protect the vineyard from damage or destruction – meaning more Malbec and less ruined crops!