Saturday, November 20, 2010

Argentina’s Napa Valley -

Argentina’s Napa Valley -

THE sunlight sliced through the clear glass of the gazebo-like restaurant at Familia Zuccardi, one of dozens of wineries located in the small town of Maipú, just outside the city of Mendoza, Argentina. The purple-red malbec and torrontés grapevines glistened in the early afternoon sun. Inside, a waitress poured us chardonnay as bread sticks and an appetizer of ham ravioli arrived. She brought a different chardonnay for the cannelloni filled with sweetbread. Then a hearty malbec, Argentina’s signature wine, accompanied the main course of baby goat rolls filled with sun-dried tomatoes and aubergine.

winery-hopping in Mendoza — Latin America’s largest winemaking region. Situated some 600 miles west of Buenos Aires, the province is home to more than 800 wineries, about 100 of which actively receive tourists. And as Argentine wine exports continue to grow by 25 percent a year, this 57,000-square-mile area is drawing not only more tourists, but also vintners, who see in Mendoza the same charm and potential that propelled more established wine regions decades ago.

“Mendoza is Napa 30 or 40 years ago,” said Michael Evans, a former Democratic campaign strategist from Washington, D.C., who moved to Mendoza six years ago to go into the wine business.

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