Posted by: wineatlunch | May 12, 2010

Hispanic Wines including Spain, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay!

Growing vines at the foot of the Andes, Chile has a unique climate perfect for grapes to thrive. Spanning over an 800 mile stretch along the Andes, the wine growing regions of All Star!Chile range from hot and dry in the north to damp and cool in the south. Being so narrow, Chile has a climate influenced by the ocean and breezes from the mountains. Grapes thrive from the air currents that cause hot days and cool nights. Additionally, Chile irrigates its vineyards using runoff from the mountains as the main source of water. Chile’s wine growing regions are categorized into 5 main regions including Atacama, Coquimbo, Aconcagua, Valle Central, and Southern Chile. Valle Central is located across from Argentina’s main region for vineyards, Mendoza and Valle Central produces the most wine that is exported abroad.

As the most widely planted wine producing nation, Spain is home to over 2.9 million acres of vines. Spain has over 600 varietals ofAll Star!grapes with many of them being native to the country. Tempranillo, garnacha, Albariño, macabeo, monastrell, and xarel-lo are some of the most commonly planted varietals. With a winemaking history dating back thousands of years, Spain prides itself on producing quality wines. Its microclimates and regions allow winemakers to produce both world class high end wines as well as everyday value wines.

Historically, Argentine winemakers were traditionally more interested in quantity than quality with the country consuming 90% of the wine it produced. Until the early 1990s, ArgentinaAll Star!produced more wine than any other country outside Europe, though the majority of it was considered un-exportable.However, the desire to increase exports fueled significant advances in quality. Argentine wines started being exported during the 1990s, and are currently growing in popularity, making it now the second biggest wine exporter in Latin America behind Chile. The devaluation of the Argentine peso in 2002, following the economic collapse, further fueled the industry as production costs decreased and tourism significantly increased, giving way to a whole new concept of wine tourism in Argentina. The past years have seen the birth of numerous tourist-friendly wineries with free tours and tastings. The Mendoza Province is now one of Argentina’s top tourist destinations and the one whose economy has grown the most in the past years.

Uruguay is South America’s 4th biggest wine producer after Argentina, Chile and Brazil. There are around 9,000 hectares of vineyards, with the largest concentration in the regions of Montevideo, San José and Canelones, within about an hour from the capital. There are other vineyard areas to the west, near theAll Star!town of Colonia del Sacramento, and more scattered around the country. The vineyards are generally like much of the country, on flat land or very gently rolling hills. The climate is maritime-influenced, with ocean breezes, generally warm, or even hot in summer, but rarely experiencing extremes. The biggest hazard is disease brought on by weather-inducing humidity or rainfall at the wrong time, close to or during harvest. Vintages vary quite widely. Soils tend to be quite rich and fertile so vigor can be a problem. Over the past 20 years, considerable advances have been made in vineyard management, especially changing the vine training systems to cope with the vigor/disease issues.

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