The region of San Juan is the second grape and wine producing region in the country, with over 47000 planted hectares. Even though the predominant high quality grape is Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Bonarda, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Bland and Viognier also stand out. Bonarda is the second most planted wine grape in Argentina and develops excellently in this region. Tannat usually thrives better in warm weather with sandy soils, but finds however in San Juan a natural habitat to mature.
Vine-growing in San Juan is distributed in five valleys: Tulum, Ullum, Zonda, Pedernal and Calingasta. Tulum Valley, located at 635 masl, is the most important in the province. These valleys have an annual average temperature of 17° C, precipitations of 90 mm. per year and aluvional soils made of sand and clay. They reunite the necessary climatic conditions to obtain fruity wines with unique personality and style.
This region’s climatic conditions have a high impact on the wine’s differentiating quality; the weather is warm and very dry. According to winemakers with a vast experience in the region, this characteristic is explained by the unique sun exposure of an average of 330 days a year, the low level of precipitations and weather phenomena. Thus, the high quality of wines can be sustained in the long-term. In addition, this region is characterized by the low risk of late freezes and hailstone.
The soils in San Juan are varied although mainly aluvional. They hold certain singularities such as sandy extensions towards the East of Tulum Valley and a spreading of calcareous soils in Zonda with a lot of potential.
San Juan’s attributes allow for a wide variety of possibilities in winemaking: from young and fruity to intense and structured wines.
The 47000 ha of planted surface in San Juan reach 21% of the nation’s total. The values have remained the same but there has been a turn towards the cultivation of high quality varieties. New plantations of high quality grapes and the implementation of state of the art technology in wineries has allowed for the elaboration of new wines where Syrah has positioned itself as the region’s typical varietal. However, Malbec from San Juan holds interesting and notable differences with those of other regions.
At Ullum Valley, red wines hold a very good color intensity, great structure, friendly tannins and defined aromas. On the other hand, Pedernal is undoubtedly a micro region that produces wines and grapes of the highest quality; in Pozo de los Algarrobos, Caucete, one can find exceptional Verdot, outstanding Cabernet Franc and excellent Viognier.
Calingasta is arising as region with high-potential: extraordinary Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon originate there. They reveal a highly mature, concentrated and colorful fruit.
According to winemakers of high expertise, this region is suitable to make high quality red wines such as Malbec from Zonda, and mainly from Pedernal, Tannat and Petit Verdot. There is also great potential for Bonarda and Torrontés. In white wines, Chardonnay, Viognier and Chenin are the ones that stand out the most. The distinctive features of San Juan wines are sweetness and remarkable fruit presence.