Monday, September 6, 2010

The City of Mendoza, Argentina

(Sept. 1, 2010) I arrived in Mendoza safely and was met by Luis, CEO of Norton Winery. He also collected Yerco, a viticulture professor from Chile, at the same time and then drove us to our hotel, Club Tapiz. Luis was incredibly charming and welcomed us both to Argentina with much interesting information on the wine industry.

As we departed the airport, I realized it was quite small, with only one terminal. It was a cloudy winter day in the mid-50 degrees with rain in the forecast. Mendoza has approximately 600,000 people and is nestled at the base of the Andes Mountains. They tower over the city with impressive snow-capped peaks, with the largest being Aconcagua at 22,841 feet!

The city of Mendoza, like many large cities, is not as impressive in the winter. It also has many poor sections with shanty houses and graffiti. However, downtown there are many modern buildings with tree lined streets. Many streets are also lined with canals on both sides that bring the water from the Andes. What I didn’t realize is that Mendoza is actually in the high desert, and without the water from the Andes, there were would no wine industry here. The other large industry is petroleum.

After a 30 minute drive south through the city, we arrived in the outskirts of Mendoza in Lujan de Cuyo where many of the famous wineries are located. The vineyards surrounded us – looking impressive in their winter wardrobe of sculptured wood. Most of the vines had been cane pruned and were tied to VSP trellising with tan-colored strips which turned out to be a plant material made from bulrush which was biodegradable and safe for the environment. It looked much nicer than the plastic green tape we use in California.

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