KEY REGIONS

Argentina’s grapegrowing areas are divided into three main regions that mostly follow the country’s long western border along the Andes Mountains.

Northwest/Norte — High altitude

Salta

Meaning “very beautiful”, Salta’s vineyards are located in the desert-like Calchaquí Valley and have the Andes’ highest peaks in the background.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 4,200 - 9,842’
  • Highest vineyard in world at 9,842’ in Colomé
  • Average annual temperature is 59F
  • Furthest north
  • Produces 3% of Argentina’s wine
  • Main region is Cafayate

Key wines: Fragrant, crisp Torrontés

Catamarca

A new focus on planting top quality grapes in sandy, stony soils —combined with mountainous terrain and near desert-like weather— is transforming this rural region’s wines.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 3,300 – 7,200’
  • Average annual temperature is 65F

Key wines: Fragrant Torrontés, concentrated Syrah

Center-West/Cuyo — Lots of sun, low rain/humidity/fertility

La Rioja

There is so much sun that the main training system is the parral (a high, flat wide-top trellis), which shades the berries and prevents sunburn. Little rain and well-drained alluvial soils are countered with new drip irrigation technology.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 2,624-4,593’
  • Average annual temperature is 66F

Key wines: Torrontés makes rich still and lush sparkling wines, ripe Bonarda

San Juan

With one of the sunniest climates in the world, it’s no wonder that San Juan is the second largest wine-producing province in Argentina. Hot days give way to cold nights; this diurnal shift slows maturity for intense, concentrated wines.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 1,968-4,429’
  • Average annual temperature is 63F
  • Only 30 cloudy days each year

Key wines: Juicy Viognier and intense Malbec. Ripe and fleshy Syrah is the rising star, replacing traditional Bonarda

Mendoza

Mendoza’s varied altitudes and temperatures offer great conditions for a wide range of grape varieties. Natural resources and massive investment in vineyards and wineries have made this Argentina’s wine capital and one of the world’s great wine regions.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 1,500-5,580’
  • Average annual temperature is 59/66F
  • 70% of Argentina’s wine production
  • Five main areas: Northeastern, Central, Mendoza River Area (including Luján de Cuyo and Maipú), Uco Valley and Southern
  • Top subregions: Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley
  • Higher vineyards have bigger diurnal swings for extra acidity, flavors, aging potential

Key wines: Red blends, with powerful Malbecs and a growing number of Cabernet Sauvignons. Torrontés at lower elevations; Chardonnay at higher elevations.

South/Patagonia — Lowest altitude, farthest south near chilly Antarctic currents

Neuquén

Newest wine region, first planted in 1999, focused on modern, high-quality wines.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 1,300-1,500’
  • Average annual temperature is 50F
  • Big diurnal shift
  • Patagonian winds keep grapes dry and cool, but can also damage the berries
  • Nutrient-poor soils cause roots to go deep, through many layers, and gain complexity. Also limits vine growth, encouraging more concentrated, ripe grapes.

Key wines: Bright acidity is a hallmark of this cool region. Malbec is floral, mineral. Elegant Pinot Noir is creating a stir.

Río Negro

Traditional growing area in Patagonia, with Malbec vineyards a few generations old. More recent plantings down near the chilly 42nd Parallel. As with Neuquén, growing diversity and quality.

Key Facts:

  • Vineyard altitude is 1,300-1,500’
  • Average annual temperature is 55F
  • Windswept
  • Semi-arid and poor soils for great concentration

Key wines: Mineral Sauvignon Blanc. Aromatic Malbec, Pinot Noir, Merlot.


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Argentina Growing Region Facts

  • Biggest: Mendoza (70% Argentine production) > San Juan > Rio Negro
  • Oldest: La Rioja
  • Lowest: Río Negro / Neuquén (both in Patagonia)
  • Farthest north: Salta
  • Farthest south: Río Negro
  • Most vineyard acreage among New World countries

Pronunciations

Norte: Salta and Catamarca


Cuyo: La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza


Patagonia: Neuquén, Río Negro


Torrontés, Malbec, Bonarda


The world's highest-altitude vineyards are at Colomé Winery in Salta. At nearly 10,000', that's about five times higher than Napa Valley's "high-altitude" vineyards.

Grapes can easily get sunburned at high altitudes. To protect them, the leafy vines are trained into overhead pergolas or parral

Older vines have roots that go deep through many different soils, which makes for more complex and concentrated flavors. More than half of Argentina’s vineyards are over 25 years old.