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Patagonia, the southernmost region in Argentina

This region comprises the provinces of Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa. It is considered one of the most favorable places in the country for making wines, and where top Argentine wineries have developed luxury projects

Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa concentrate together more than 4,550 ha of cultivated vineyards. One of the characteristics of this region is that winters are intense and summers are cool during nights, allowing to reach wines with a combination of sugar and acidity and a lot of aromas.

Other special feature of the region is the slow and lengthy ripening of grapes. The height of its vineyards ranges from 300 to 500 meters above sea level. All these characteristics grant Patagonia wines an elegant flavor, matchless aromatic intensity, purity of environment, all of which show that Patagonia is the southernmost region under the sun for the development of wine industry.

During 2012, Patagonia’s overall exports registered a 15% drop in terms of value and 18% in volume. In the region, the province with the best performance is Rio Negro, experiencing a growth in 2012 compared with 2011, as well as in the first quarter of 2013 versus 2012.

The voice of the protagonists

Patagonia has managed to position as one of the country’s regions where the quality of its wines is the major attribute. Its climatic conditions guarantee the health of vineyards and an excellent quality of grapes, leading to intense wines, in terms of both color and aromas. All these features enable the region to achieve a great recognition nation and worldwide.

Roberto Schroeder, owner of Familia Schroeder winery, stressed: “Patagonia’s wines flaunt a great personality, exhibiting a very striking color. They are expressive, fruity, and intense, with a great acidity. These characteristics grant them longevity, reaching a ripening and aging in line with time.”

Roberto Schroeder, owner of Familia Schroeder winery, stressed: “Patagonia’s wines boast a great personality, exhibiting a very striking color. They are expressive, fruity, and intense, offering a great acidity. These characteristics grant them longevity, reaching a ripening and aging in line with time.”

As regards the climate of the region, Marcelo Miras, winemaking manager at NQN and Del Fin del Mundo, both wineries located in San Patricio del Chañar, Neuquén, highlighted that it is continental, dry warm, not exceeding the annual average rainfalls of 200 mm. Moreover, he continued: “it is worthy to mention that there is a wide temperature range during the months of grape ripening, bestowing special features on wines, especially in the development of aromas, acidity, and color (in red wines).

In relation to the varieties that grow best in this region, the winemaker of both wineries explained that, from the point of view of wine growing and making, the short and mid-cycle varieties present a better adaptation to Patagonia’s conditions than long-cycle ones. Within this panorama, the professional quoted Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillón, Viognier among the white grapes, and Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon among reds. Besides, regarding rosé grapes, he spotlighted the good performance of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris.

Likewise, Schroeder mentioned two varieties, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which planted in high stony lands, moderately irrigated and undergoing some differential cultural treatments, may give birth to very interesting fruity wines, with good color, and fine tannins.

The differential of Patagonia’s varieties in respect of other regions is basically the climate and soil. “This region is a very special terroir sourcing grapes characterized by their health, concentration, small size, limited quantity and yield, good natural acidity and great color, ideal conditions to make high-quality and competitive wines destined for the most demanding markets,” maintained the director of Familia Schroeder.

Regarding the performance of the sales to the deomestic and foreign market, Juan José Llarondo, Marketing Manager of Del Fin del Mundo commented that the winery has experienced a sustained growth in both markets. “Sales have been exceeding the budget every year and we achieved a very good positioning in a short time.”

Considering 2013, “both wineries, in terms of volume for the domestic market, are in line with estimated budget. Regarding the foreign market, numbers do not go along with the budget due to the current macroeconomic context for exports,” pointed out Llarondo.

In addition, Roberto Schroeder maintained that “in the past ten years, Patagonia has managed to consolidate as wine-producing region, gaining presence and recognition all over the country. Besides, in the region, the winery’s share on the shelves is even more important.”

In relation to exports, he said that “in this period of time, sales have grown more than ten-fold, topping the USD 12 billion mark.”

Natalia Farallo, in charge of the communication at Bodega del Desierto, commented that the winery has 140 hectares of own vineyards located in “25 de Mayo” locality, in south-west La Pampa. The climate of this region, as she stressed, is arid continental, with warm to cool temperatures with a temperature range of 70°F and annual rainfalls around 200 mm. The presence of strong and dry winds makes grape’s skin thicker as a defense mechanism and contributes to the vineyard’s health.  On the other hand, the high heliophany (hours of sunlight) lead to the good grape ripening giving rise to wines with lot of color and aromas. Likewise, “the soil is deep and sandy, with a variable content of stones, and scant organic matter and fertility, what is favorable for the vigor control,” she highlighted.

As regards the conditions of grapes in this province, she said the climate, wide temperature range, strong winds and high heliophany lead to red wines with great color, complexity, maturity, and good varietal tipicity. Whereas in the case of whites, they are well-structured, aromatic, and complex wines, with a good natural acidity and mineral notes.

Finally, in relation to sales performance in the markets, according to the company, in the past few years, it has experienced a very significant growth in the domestic market, being wine shops the leading sales channel. “As the wine boasts a good value for money people buy it again, the important thing is that people choose it the first time. Regarding the foreign market, the winery grows, mainly in the United States, where our consultant winemaker, Paul Hobbs, makes the difference”.

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