Argentina is one of the world’s largest wine-producing countries. The climate of Argentina is similar to the Andes and it is this similarity that supports the Argentinean wine industry. Argentina is mainly an arid landscape that profits from irrigating waters off the mountains. Argentina’s warmer inland region encourages vine growth down the entire length of the country. In the north, the vineyards lie at the same latitude as Morocco; and in the south, vineyards share latitude with New Zealand. One of the vital aspects to growing quality wine grapes here is altitude, with vineyards planted at 2,000 and 3,000 feet to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Argentine wines are made from grapes such as traditional Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and also varieties like Tempranillo, Bonarda, Barbera, Torrontés and Malbec.
Plentiful sunny days and warm climate favour a good maturity and concentration of aroma and colour in the grapes. The soil types of the Argentine wine regions offer blends of light and sandy and heavier, clay-based alluvial soils. Argentine soils are deep, porous and lacking in organic matter. Vineyard locations vary in altitude, depending on their closeness to the Andes. Due to the modest rainfall of the region, irrigation is vital. Water from the Andean range thaw, travels down in the form of rivers to become ditches or channels.
The sizable spans of Argentina’s vineyards are located along the country’s western border. They extend for over 2,000 kilometres, from the Cafayate Valley, high up in Salta, in the north, through Mendoza, in the center, right down to the lower-level and down to the protected Rio Negro Valley, to the south east, in Patagonia. The most notable wine regions of Argentina are Mendoza, where nearly all the major wineries are concentrated. With its continental climate favoring grape growing, the Mendoza region is responsible for producing over 80% of total wine production in Argentina. The Salta region, nestled in the very far north of the country is a region of high quality Cabernets Sauvignons and, Torrontés wines. The Rio Negro region lies at the southern end of wine production. It is known by many as an upcoming wine region, not only for cool-climate varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines, but also high quality sparkling wines. The San Juan and La Rioja regions are long-standing regions that continue to produce a wealth of wine created from simple grapes for local consumption.
Chile has a wonderful climate for growing wine grapes. Located, west of the Andes, Chile’s climate varies from the heat of the arid, rocky, mountainous desert to the north and the icy, cold, Antarctic expanse in the south. Chile’s vineyards flourish in the warm, fertile valleys that are positioned between the two areas. Viticulture has been established in Chile for centuries and there are a wide selection of global wine varieties planted, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and many more. Many of the wine grapes that were believed to be Merlot have recently been determined to be Carmenère, which is a scarcely planted variety of Bordeaux.
Many of Chilean vineyards are situated within the fertile basin, bordered by the Andes and a lower coastal mountain range that runs about 50 miles north of the capital Santiago to 250 miles south of the city. Around Santiago, where many of the vineyards are concentrated, the rainfall is very low and the melted snows of the Andes provide the important irrigation waters. Temperatures are curbed by the mountains and by the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean and even in the summer, rarely rise above 95° F. The vineyards are located in the Central Valley, a plateau, bounded by two mountain ranges and crossed by the rivers Maipo, Maule, Aconcagua, and others.
The wine regions of Chile include some sub regions. The northernmost region is Aconcagua, and due to its location, it is Chile’s warmest region. The hot and dry conditions signify that there are some notable wineries here. In the intermediate region Panquehue, conditions are better, and some interesting wines are produced. Nearer to the coast is one of the cooler regions, Casablanca, where large plantings of white wine varieties, like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are grown.
The Central Valley, which produces the vast majority of wines, is, composed of four main sub regions. These wine regions are the Maipo, Rapel, Curico and Maule Valleys, each which has rivers that run west from the Andes to the ocean. Maipo is Chile’s oldest wine region. Cabernet Sauvignon and other red wine varieties are favored by these sub regions. Maipo produces some very good wines. South of Maipo is Rapel with its sub regions of Cachapoal and Colchagua. There are some wines of interest produced here, and also further south at Maule. Maule is also subdivided with the most significant region being Curicó, which includes Lontue. Nearby is Chimbarongo, which produces some appealing Pinot Noir wines.