Look at almost any wine’s label, and you’ll find an indication of its origin, whether it’s as broad as an entire country or as specific as a particular vineyard. That’s because wines embody, and are shaped by, the places they come from—their distinctive combination of geography and climate.
Maps by Richard Thompson, with exception of Alsace, Argentina, Austria and Oregon AVA maps by Henry Eng
Argentina is probably the most important winemaking region in South America, with Chile being a close second. The vines of Argentina are planted mostly around the Mendoza area, with other vineyards scattered to the north. While Argentina has had its monetary troubles in the past, they have never forgotten their love of wine: They are the fifth most wine-drinking country in the world, with 51.6L/capita per year being drunk. Until recently, this local wine stayed within its borders.
Australia is a relative newcomer to growing wine, only gaining a worldwide reputation in the past decade or so. In Australia, there are not wines that are named after regions, like Champagne. Any wine grape can be grown anywhere. The wines, therefore, are labeled with the name of the actual grape used. Certain regions are known to grow certain grapes well, however, and those are interesting to watch as winemaking becomes more firmly rooted on this continent.Over 95% of all Australian wines are grown in the ‘South-Eastern’ appellation. While there are over 800 wineries, four companies account for 80% of the wine produced here. Even so, the total output of the entire country of Australia is still less than what the Gallo winery in the US creates each year. The world of wine is very relative.
Chile is a long, slender country. From tip to tip, Chile is about 2,700 miles – the same distance from the US’s east coast to the west coast! Chile is a land with many different climates, from volcanos to glaciers, from deserts to the ocean. This gives the Chileans ample climates to grow grapes. The Spanish took over Chile centuries ago and there are now around 13 million residents in this country, both of Spanish and the native American descent. Many of those Spanish immigrants brought grape vines with them, and the rest is history.