South America Travel: Wine Tourism in Chile and Argentina
Chile and Argentina boast some of the best wine production. Read about how you can combine a Patagonia vacation package with wine tourism.
Argentina and Chile are both in the top 10 in the world in wine production. For travelers planning a South American vacation, wine tourism to both countries is made easy. Both countries have the services and infrastructure, as well as surrounding attractions, to combine tours of the wine regions with other travel options. The wine regions in both countries are proximate to the Andes foothills.
Argentina’s wine regions are concentrated in the northwest of the territory, although there is some production in Cordoba and south of Buenos Aires. The country is the 5th largest producer of wine in the world. Wine production here had an early beginning in the 1550s, when the Spanish were colonizing and missionizing in what is now the northwest of Argentina.
Argentina has only recently become concerned with quality and with the exportation of wine, and it is now largest exporter of wine in South America. In the early 2000s, the severe devaluation of peso had the double effect of decreasing production costs and increasing tourism increased. As a result of this combination of factors, regions like Mendoza and San Juan have become major tourist destinations.
Mendoza now produces around 60 to 70 percent of Argentine wine and it is responsible for 80 percent of total export. The high altitude and low humidity, with the rain shadow cast by the Andes, create ideal conditions for wine production. Argentina’s most well-known wines, include Malbec and Torrontés. Other wine regions are north in Salta and Jujuy, as well as south in Rio Negro and Neuquen where a cooler climate prevails.
Chile, like Argentina, also has a long history of wine production extending back to the 16th century, although the industry has experienced exponential growth in the last few decades. The Chilean wine industry has been greatly influenced by French winemaking techniques.
Wine production in Chile is very regional. The northern regions produce mostly pisco and table grapes; the central region produces Cabernets and Merlots; while the southern regions produce box and jug wines. The Central Valley, which is directly across the Andes from Mendoza region, is perfect for a dual-country tour. Chilean wines have recently won awards in international blind-tasting competitions.
Among the global factors that have increased the popularity of wine tourism in these countries is the phylloxera, a louse that has produced epidemics in the European wine industry. Because of the geographical isolation of Chile and Argentina, as well as their irrigation methods, the epidemic has not affected these regions. This has given a boost to both Argentina and Chile, both because wine production in both countries has been relatively unaffected and because French winemakers have exported themselves and their expertise to these wine regions.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article was written by a travel expert at Latin America For Less who can help you organize a best value Argentina tour to the wine regions as part of your fully customizable Patagonia vacation package.