Discovering the wine region of Mendoza
Mendoza is by far the largest wine region in Argentina. Located on a high-altitude plateau at the edge of the Andes Mountains, the province is responsible for roughly 70 percent of the country's annual wine production. The French Grape variety Malbec has its New World home in the vineyards of Mendoza, producing red wines of great concentration and intensity.
The province Lies on the western edge of Argentina, across the Andes Mountains from Chile.
While the province is large (it covers a similar area to the state of New York), its viticultural land is clustered mainly in the northern Part, just South of Mendoza City. Here, the regions of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and the Uco Valley are home to some of the biggest names in Argentinian wine.
Mendoza's winemaking history is nearly as Old as the colonial history of Argentina itself. The first vines were planted by priests of the Catholic Church's Jesuit order in the mid-16th Century, borrowing agricultural techniques from the Incas and Huarpes, who had occupied the land before them.
Malbec was introduced around this time by a French agronomist, Miguel Aimé Pouget.
In the 1800s, Spanish and Italian immigrants flooded into Mendoza to escape the ravages of the Phylloxera louse that was devastating vineyards in Europe at the time. A boom in wine production came in 1885, when a railway line was completed between Mendoza and the country's capital city, Buenos Aires, providing a cheaper, easier way of sending wines out of the region. For most of the 20th Century, the Argentinean wine industry focused almost entirely on the domestic market, and it is only in the past 25 years that a push toward quality has led to the wines of Mendoza gracing restaurant lists the world over.