Going to Extremes

Posted on February 19, 2014

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On the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, a cold, dry Zonda or rain shadow wind swept down the eastern slopes of the Andes and dropped a blanket of snow over the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina. “It’s a beautiful sight but devastating to budding vines and fruit trees when followed by a frost,” said Andrés Rosberg, President of the Association of Argentine Sommeliers. Early-budding Chardonnay (and the stone fruit trees) in the Valle de Uco and San Rafael suffered this vintage, but frost and hail storms are the exceptions in Mendoza, where wine-growing conditions are considered less than extreme.

Argentina’s most rigorous wine-growing conditions are found at the country’s extremes: from remote 10,000-foot sites in Salta to the north and the cold, arid steppes of Patagonia to the south. But the country’s wine culture traces its roots to more hospitable sites. Vines first arrived in the northern province of Santiago del Estero and were brought from Chile to the San Juan and Mendoza regions in the mid-16th century. The arrival of European immigrants in the mid 19th century created what Rosberg describes as a “bottom up” wine culture: “Wine is as integral to daily life in Argentina as the asado, the open-air barbecue that is the country’s national dish.” Read the complete article Going to Extremes here. Going to Extremes