San Juan is the second largest wine-producing region in Argentina, trailing only Mendoza. The San Juan wine region is primarily known for its premium red varietals, such as Syrah, Bonarda (also known as Douce Noir) and Malbec. In addition, the region has acquired a reputation for high-quality sherry-style wines, as well as brandies and vermouths.
The San Juan region is located in the northwestern corner of Argentina, between Mendoza and La Rioja (the nation’s third-leading wine region). San Juan is located almost entirely in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, which leads to extremely dry conditions that border on the semi-arid.
Compared to Mendoza, the growing conditions in San Juan are much hotter and drier. During the summer growing season, for example, temperatures can exceed 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). But this leads to a different intensity of grape flavor. There are several premium wine areas in San Juan - Calingasta, Ullum, Zona and the Tulum Valley – that are already established stars in Argentina’s wine industry.
However, the most highly-acclaimed wines from San Juan are now derived from the high-altitude vines planted in the Pedernal Valley. This wine-growing sub-region also happens to be extremely isolated and is actually located at a higher altitude than the Uco Valley in Mendoza.
The Pedernal Valley’s experimentation with extremely high-altitude winemaking is what is bringing so much attention to the wines of San Juan. The Pedernal Valley is unique in that Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from this sub-region are extremely rich and elegant. One of the most famous wineries in this area is the Graffigna Winery.
Image Source: wikimedia.org