April 3, 2023 by
Maytte Rivera

Several factors are taken into consideration when selecting a vineyard location and deciding which grape variety to plant, like the climatic conditions that will affect the site.  These include latitude (closeness to the Equator or the poles), aspect (if the vineyard faces north or south), proximity to bodies of water, risk of frost or heat damage, and altitude.  Altitude is measured by how many feet the vineyard is located above sea level, and it can range anywhere from 33 feet like some vineyards in Bordeaux to 2,000 feet in parts of Napa Valley or even 10,900 feet in areas of Argentina! Temperatures are colder as altitude rises, resulting in a slow ripening process that retains the grape’s acidity while developing concentrated flavors.  Higher altitude also means more ventilation for the vines, which helps reduce diseases.

The region of Cafayate in northwest Argentina is home to some of the highest vineyards in the world.  This area is closer to the Equator than most vineyards in Argentina, and therefore warmer.  However, altitudes of up to 6,500 feet above sea level provide cool temperatures and an extended, slow growing season. It is in this remote zone that Bodegas El Esteco produces wines like their single vineyards Fincas Notables Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, and their Chañar Punco red blend. Bemberg Estates, a winery based in Mendoza, has a parcel in Cafayate at an altitude of 6,400 feet, where they grow their Malbec Los Chanares, an intense wine full of aromas of violets, licorice, and dried herbs.  Accompany these high-altitude wines with grilled churrasco or smoked meats for a true Argentinian experience.

Author: Maytte Rivera

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