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Argentina

Argentina's vineyards were originally established by Spanish monks when they arrived in the 1500's. The primary wine production area is in the Mendoza Valley which is located on the eastern side of the Andes mountain range. The vineyards are at higher altitudes than most other growing regions (ranging from 1500 to over 5000 feet). They receive virtually no rainfall and as a result, the vineyards are irrigated.

Wine consumption in Argentina is very high and rivals that of European countries. Most of the wine produced has been for local consumption and has been of mediocre quality. Argentina did not have high enough wines of high quality to attract the export market. That changed at the end of the 1990's as international companies began investing heavily in the region. They recognized the opportunity to produce higher quality wines at attractive prices. Argentina ranks fifth in the world (and first in South America) in total wine production but since less than 10% of its wines are exported, much of the world never tastes them.

Most vineyards in Argentina do not face the problem of Phylloxera and do not graft the European grape varieties onto North American rootstocks as is necessary in most of the world. The soils in most of Argentina's vineyards are very high in mineral content which adds complexity to the taste of the wines. The temperatures during the growing season are quite warm during the day and the nights are cool.

Argentina is more known for it's red wines than whites. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese are among the best wines produced here with Malbec as the star in many wineries. Argentinean regulations require that wines labeled with a varietal name contain 90% of that varietal.