Folium: Wine in South America Is Older Than You Think via Winefolly
New York State’s largest wine producing region resides in the Finger Lakes area surrounding Finger Lakes Community College. Over 100 wineries and vineyards are located around Seneca, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Keuka, Conesus and Hemlock Lakes. The upstate climate is strongly influenced by the Finger Lakes; their significant depth provides residual summer warmth in the winter and colder temperatures in the spring. As a result, grapes are protected from disastrous spring frost during shoot growth and an early frost before the harvest. With more than 100 wineries, those of us lucky enough to live in this beautiful region are spoiled by wines that appeal to all palates.
Finger Lakes wine production is a product of its early settlers, including the German influence of Konstantin Frank. Similarly, South American wines have evolved from the roots of its inhabitants. When discussing South American wine, it often seems as if there were only two wine-producing countries on the continent: Argentina and Chile. However, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru are producing fine and exciting wines from grape varieties long forgotten in other countries.
Grapes were grown in Brazil as early as the 17th century by Portuguese settlers. Wine did not really grow in importance until the arrival of Italian immigrants in the middle of the 19th century. These settlers planted Italian grape varieties next to their vegetable gardens. Uruguay is the fourth-largest wine producer in South America. Immigrants came here mainly from Italy, Spain, France and the Basque region. These countries bottle Merlot, Chardonnay and a unique Portuguese wine called Tannat.
Many grape varieties in South America used to grow in Europe, until Phylloxera—a particularly nasty insect—invaded, attacking the delicate roots and strangling the vines. Known as the “Great French Wine Blight,” the infestation nearly destroyed the entire European wine industry in the late nineteenth century. Fortunately, in far away in South America, the grapes remained Phylloxera-free and offer a place for classic varietals like Malbec and Carmenère to reach their full potential.
Finally, there’s one advantage of South American wines that can’t be overlooked; many great bottles can be found for process less than their European or American counterparts. You just need to know what to look for!
- Winefolly: Wine in South America Is Older Than You Think
- TelegraphUK: Best Latin American Wines
- Wines of Brasil: Homepage
- Wines of Chile: Homepage
- Wines of Argentina: Homepage
The LEAF Project
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0