by Fred McMillin
for March 5, 1999


Winery of the Week

Argentina Enters The Arena


Santa Julia  
In Argentina, Santa Julia
Makes wines both red and white,
In California they sell well
Because the price is right.

The Rest of the Story

Those Santa Julia wines are selling so well Santa Julia is expanding. New plantings are over 100 acres and countings. Also, lesser varietals are being grafted over to popular export types: Merlot, Chardonnay... And would you believe, they are trying California's Zinfandel.

Of course, these precious vines must be protected. Hail presents the greatest threat, as described in WineDay, April 14, 1998, "Hail to the Malbec." Consequently, Santa Julia now has about 200 acres of the more vulnerable locations under hail nets. Also, they are co-owners of a Russian-built anti-hail rocket system.

As if hail wasn't enough of a problem for the vines, spring (in September!) frosts are common at elevations approaching 2,000 feet. To combat it, these new vines will be trained high (a vine 6 feet in the air is 3 degrees warmer then if grown closer to the ground). Also, they are purchasing lots of huge paint drums for nighttime fires.

There's also a big expansion in both white and red winemaking facilties, which we'll cover another time...Which of their wines should you try?

We said the prices are right. The Santa Julia white Torrontes won our Best Buy of 1998 award (see WineDay Annex). The new vintage sells for six (dollars). If you prefer red, grab the Oak Reserve Malbec at only $9.99. For more info, phone Yale Sager, (847) 679-012l.


The Spanish word for silver-bearing is ARGENTIFERO. Hence, the Spanish colonizers named the land Argentina. Even though they thought the land would be something special, they couldn't have guessed how special. My latest numbers show that it is the EIGHTH largest country in the world, the fifth biggest wine producer, and the fourth biggest wine consumer (per capita.). The consumption figure maybe due to the fact that Argentina, unlike other South American countries, is populated almost antirely by people of European descent...98%!...and they brought their vines.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


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