The History of Wine in Argentina

The history of Argentine wine to a great deal parallels the history of wine in South America. Wines were first introduced in the 1500s and until the 1800’s production of wine was slow. The European introduction of the Malbec increased the production of wine in the early 1900s but production remained stagnant until later in the century. Historically, Argentines were more focused on producing a large amount of low quality wine for local consumption rather than focusing on improving the quality of its vineyards. Most wines in Argentina were grown to accompany Argentine meat for parillas and everyday meals. The local market still remains strong, although a shift towards exports and a decreasing interest in low quality wines has shifted the focus away from these tabletop varieties. In the early 1990s Argentina was exporting only 1% of its harvest however, shifts in the production of higher quality wine were made when the peso was declared 1:1 with the dollar. Argentine wine growers began importing European equipment and while the quality of wine began to improve, exports were not allowed during this time so the market remained local.

When the peso was devalued in 2001, the tourism industry boomed, and buying and investing wine properties in Argentina was coming in at just less than a steal. The production of Argentine wine began cheaper to produce and export; this along with the influx of tourism spread the word about Argentine wine via exports and returning tourists. With the local disinterest in low quality wines, and the popularity of Argentine wines abroad, Argentina has seen incredible growth in the industry especially over the last five years. With inflation and the stabilization of the economy, the production of wine isn’t as cheap as it was in 2001, but investments on the upward of $1.5 billion dollars in the last ten years has shaped Argentine wine into a booming industry and a world competitor.