Colonized by the Spanish South America was destined to become a winemaking region. Nevertheless a number of political issues had a very negative influence on the whole continent and only recently two main wine producers of South America – Argentina and Chile, began their rise to worldwide fame in the world of wine.
Argentina is considered to be most promising of the New World wine regions. It has over 400 year of winemaking tradition brought here by Spanish missionaries, huge inner wine consumption and wine was even recently appointed as national liquor. Like many other countries in South America due to a number of social and political factors Argentina started aiming at export only in 1990th (following the example of Chile), but a merely decade later it entered the list of top world exporters and gain serious recognition by experts.
Argentina has lots of regions suitable for winemaking; due to high altitudes they are safe from most of the grape diseases and parasites. Over the centuries european immigrants from different parts of Europe took their winemaking experience and helped establishing an industry in this promising region. With the start of the export the industry got modernizations and today this country is considered to be the sleeping giant of wine production due to its huge potential and almost a national dedication to wine.
Chile is currently world’s fifth largest exporter of wines and the ninth largest producer. The main secret of this land is that it was blessed by a large coastal mountain region with a climate somewhere between California and France. Also just like many things created in the so called New World Chilean winemakers had a unique possibility to use the experience of the Old World and create a unique fusion.
Initially like in other South American countries the viticulture was brought here by Spanish conquistadors for church purposes, but with the growth of Chilean winemaking Spain unsuccessfully tried to control it by limiting the export and production. Chile mostly ignored the mainland orders and in time local winemakers got more interested in French winemaking experience. In addition to this after the phylloxera plight many French winemakers moved to Chile, which was never affected by this plague of winemaking. Both of these factors eventually boosted the Chilean wine industry. Another simple but significant step occurred in the 1980th when the winemakers in Chile switched the material of aging barrels from rauli beechwood to oak and stainless steel. This eliminated a special taste that was accepted by the local markets, but found unpleasant by international tasters. In addition to this the winemakers started aiming at improving the quality of the wine, which eventually paid off.
At the turn of the millennium Chilean winemaking skyrocketed to success in blind wine tastings. For example from 2004 to 2006 it occupied the top spots in many tastings in Europe, South America and Asia. In addition to this it found its way to new markets all over the world and is currently taking market segments from other imported wines.