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San Juan Wine

San Juan is an important Argentinean wine-producing area. Originally a prolific producer of high-yielding pink grape varieties (e.g. Cereza), whose high sugar content made them ideal for blending, San Juan is now producing wines of increasing quality using traditional European grape varieties. Syrah and the ever-present Malbec are the most important of these.

The dry hills of San Juan
©Wines of Argentina/Garcia Betancourt

The wine region of San Juan covers the administrative area of the same name in the north-western corner of Argentina. The province sits between Mendoza and La Rioja, and is almost entirely contained within the mountainous foothills of the Andes. In terms of production, San Juan is Argentina's second-largest wine region (after Mendoza), with about half of its agricultural land devoted to vineyards. The most important area of production is the Tulum Valley, but other wine regions within San Juan include the Zonda Valley and the high-quality Pedernal Valley.

Like Mendoza, the San Juan region is predominantly semi-desert, and its viticulture is dependent on irrigation from the San Juan and Jachal rivers. Because they are at the mercy of a very dry continental climate, many vineyards also rely on the meltwater flowing down from the Andes mountain range to the west. What little precipitation the region does get, falls mainly during the storms which are common during the summer months.

In common with other Argentinean wine regions, San Juan is both helped and hindered by the Zonda, a hot, dry wind that develops in the rainshadow of the Andes. The wind is such a feature of the region that one of San Juan's three sub-regions – the Zonda Valley – is named after it.

As in Mendoza, San Juan's vineyards are located at a relatively high average altitude, with the lowest at around 2000ft (600m) and the highest at 4000ft (1200m) above sea level.

San Juan is home to Bonarda, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Syrah for red wines, and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontes and Viognier for white wines. It also produces a large quantity of Criolla and Cereza grapes, which are generally used to make cheaper, slightly sweet wines. Additionally, the region produces sherry-style wines and provides most of the base for Argentina's brandy and vermouth.

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Here are some wines produced in this region.
Wine Name
Graffigna Clasico Malbec, Tulum Valley, Argentina Malbec $10 1514
Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec, Pedernal Valley, Argentina Malbec $11 4569
Yellow + Blue Malbec, San Juan, Argentina Malbec $6 5880
Las Moras Malbec, San Juan, Argentina Malbec $10 6721
Graffigna Grand Reserve Malbec, Pedernal Valley, Argentina Malbec $18 8906
Graffigna Centenario Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Pedernal Valley, Argentina Cabernet Sauvignon $11 10299
Bodegas Callia 'Grand Callia' Winemaker's Reserve, San Juan, Argentina N/A $25 10817
Bodegas Callia Alta Malbec, Valle de Tulum, Argentina Malbec $10 11522
Graffigna Centenario Reserve Pinot Grigio, Tulum Valley, Argentina Pinot Grigio $11 12173
Las Moras 'Mora Negra', San Juan, Argentina N/A $28 13616
25 Lagunas Malbec, San Juan, Argentina Malbec $8 14404
Bodegas Callia Alta Shiraz - Malbec, Valle de Tulum, Argentina Malbec - Syrah $8 14452
Jelu Estate Malbec, Zonda Valley, Argentina Malbec $13 16340
Casa Montes Ampakama Malbec, San Juan, Argentina Malbec $11 18272
Ayllus 'Los Ailos' Syrah - Malbec, Tulum Valley, Argentina Malbec - Syrah $8 21924
Jelu Estate Malbec Rose, Zonda Valley, Argentina Malbec $11 22995
Bodegas Callia Alta Torrontes, Valle de Tulum, Argentina Torrontes $10 26206
Xumek Sol Huarpe Malbec, Valle de Zonda, Argentina Malbec $15 26206
Bodegas Callia Alta Syrah, Valle de Tulum, Argentina Syrah $6 27626
Bodegas Callia Magna Syrah, San Juan, Argentina Shiraz $11 27934
Bodegas Martin Fierro Malbec, Tulum Valley, Argentina Malbec $10 27934
Graffigna Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Pedernal Valley, Argentina Cabernet Sauvignon $18 28089
Graffigna Clasico Shiraz, Tulum Valley, Argentina Shiraz $13 29737
Las Moras Bonarda, San Juan, Argentina Bonarda $3 30310
Las Moras Sauvignon Blanc, San Juan, Argentina Sauvignon Blanc $10 31443
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