Bordered by Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay, Salta is one of the largest provinces of Argentina. It is the most northerly viticultural zone of Argentina, comprising 3% of the country’s total vineyards. Salta boasts a wide diversity of terrains, from the fertile valley of the capital, to the canyons of Cafayate, and the La Puna plateaux. Cafayate is among the most important vineyard regions of the province; notably the Santa Maria and Colomé areas where 70% of Salta’s vines are located over a 4120 hectare stretch.
Latitude and altitude are two essential aspects that define Argentinian vineyard terroirs. Northern Argentina is one of the regions world-wide that is closest to the equator. To escape the fierce heat, the Argentinians look upwards. The highest vineyards in the world are located here. Salta’s main production area is situated at 1500 metres above sea level, with vineyards soaring up to 3000 metres in altitude. The vast majority of growers are located in valleys or plateaux nestled between two mountain chains where the land is relatively flat. These bucolic landscapes feature carob trees and cacti alongside the vineyards.
The wide daily fluctuation in temperature brought by the high altitude here brings enormous benefits to the vines. During the day, the sunshine and heat promotes ripening, while the sharp drop in temperature at night preserves the balance of natural acids inside the grapes. The Andes mountain range, which borders Argentina to the west, acts as a natural barrier. By blocking the cold winds and rains brought by the Pacific Ocean to Chile, the Andes create a continental climate in Argentina with hot, dry summers. This dry climate wards off fungal infections in the vineyards making it far easier to practice organic viticulture. The soils consist of sandy sediments with excellent drainage capacities which, among their many benefits, leach harmful mineral salts from the earth. Water for irrigation comes from the rivers that run alongside the region’s valleys and sub-soil wells. Melted snow from the Andes is also an abundant, pure water source to nourish the vines.
Torrontés is the most planted grape variety in Salta. This white wine grape is emblematic of Argentina, producing intensely aromatic wines of unique, highly distinctive character. The Andes mountains, the practice of planting at high altitudes to compensate latitude, the dry, continental climate with little rainfall, the abundance of water sources, the high diurnal variation… all of these elements and many others combine to create the singular beauty of Argentinian wines.