The more progressive vineyards and wineries of South America are very different from most of those in the U.S. and Europe. “They are almost like the old haciendas, but with a new take. The vineyards are huge complexes that provide workers with housing, soccer fields and places for their children to play,” Eric says.
“The viticulturists take a holistic approach to every section of the vineyard,” he adds. “They do soil core drillings and temperature charting. They compile a tremendous amount of data and take the time to study it in order to maximize their investment and to grow the highest quality grapes from their region.”
Argentina and Chile are arid regions, and the vineyards are irrigated with snowmelt from the Andes Mountains.
Wine tourism in South America also differs from that in the U.S., Eric notes. First, at most wineries it’s essential to have a reservation. Second, unless you specify otherwise ahead of time, it is expected that you will spend several hours at the winery, often having a lengthy lunch in addition to tasting the wines and touring the vineyards and winery.
“The format really is designed for the wine enthusiast,” Eric says.
And finally, wineries have three levels of wines, low-end to high-end. “Think of it like Sears’ old Good, Better, Best categories,” Eric says. If you pay a lower price, you will be given the low and moderate wines to taste. Pay a higher premium and you can taste from any category.