The Argentine Wine Industry
Key statistics – production and consumption
In 2005, Argentina's total plantings produced 2.7 billion kilograms of wine grapes.
That weight yielded a total wine production of 1.5 billion litres, of which 1.1 billion was produced in Mendoza.
There were nearly 26,000 vineyards registered in Argentina in 2005.
The total area of vineyards in Argentina has grown from 210,000 hectares in 1995 to 213,000 hectares in 2005.
Again, this statistic obscures slightly the fact that during that period, many of the hectares involved have had their vines replaced – with high-yielding, low value varieties replaced with premium grapes.
Even now, though, only a little over half the total area is certified as planted with premium varietals, with these premium plantings favouring red varieties by a factor of 4 to 1. The the remaining hectares are planted in pink-skinned Criolla Grande (known in the USA as Mission – most likely similar to the grapes first introduced back in 1556), sweet white Pedro Ximénez, and various hybrids, unknown or mixed white varieties. These grapes yield the low quality, high volume fruit on which the bulk of Argentina's domestic-oriented 'table wine' production is based.
While domestic consumption has fallen from 1.8 billion litres in 1990 to 1.1 billion litres in 2005, up until 2003 (when wine-type statistics stopped being collected in favour of aggregated volumes), the percentage of vino fino (quality wines) consumed versus vino de mesa (table or cheap wines) had increased from being about 17% by volume to 46%. So, what the industry had been losing in volume they had been more than making up for in quality and value.
215 million litres of wine were exported in 2005. This was a record high, but only just: in 1995, 197 million litres were exported.
But that raw statistic disguises the change in the nature of the product, and consequently its growing importance to Argentina (as well as wine lovers around the world!). While the value of the product exported in 1995 was just US$61 million, in 2005 almost the same volume of wine was worth more that US$302 million – five times as much.
While the devaluation of the Argentine Peso has certainly helped to make Argentine exports more competitive in recent years, remember those values are in US dollars – on other words, the increase in value is real (regardless of the devaluation).
This is clear indication of the increasing focus and weighting of export production on the premium end of the market.
- Early beginnings
- Growing grapes in a desert
- Malbec finds a home
- The double-edged sword of domestic demand
- A changing industry
- Key statistics – production and consumption
- Key statistics – regions and varieties
Statistics source: Argentine Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura