As in all wine-growing countries of South America, the Spanish conquerors brought the vine to Argentina in the 16th century, particularly the monks who followed the legions. In Argentina, the Jesuit priest Cedrón introduced European grape varieties to Argentina, primarily Criolla. However, the real starting signal for viticulture as it has developed to this day came with the founding of the Trapiche winery, which still produces wine today. The most famous among them was the Catena family from the Italian Abruzzo region, who were among the first to recognise the potential of the Malbec variety in Argentina and planted vineyards at cooler altitudes early on, today one of the country's leading trends. In the dry steppe climate, protected by the Andes to the west, about 220,000 hectares are cultivated with vines today. The lion's share stems from the Mendoza region, the heart and powerhouse of Argentine viticulture. Vines in sub-regions such as the Valle de Uco are found at altitudes of 1,500 metres and more. Other important regions are La Rioja, San Juan and Salta, north of Mendoza. But regions in the flat, cool south, such as Nequén and Rio Negro are also pushing forward with force. Besides international white wine varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Argentina can also score points with its own variety, Torrontes, unrelated to the Spanish Torrontes. In the red wine segment, Malbec has emerged as the benchmark for wine from Argentina, an often exciting counterpart to the wines from Cahors. But Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also play a significant role. And Criolla also continues to be one of the most cultivated grape varieties.
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