It has been said that smooth roads lead to basic vineyards, while the more challenging trails will take you to the finest grapes on earth – Salta, nestled high in the foothills of the Andes mountains, is not the most accessible wine region in Argentina but it is home to some of the country’s most renowned wines.
Home to the highest vineyards in the world, with some reaching altitudes of over 3,000m above sea level, the region provides unique growing conditions for grapes to develop phenolic ripeness while retaining their natural acidity, producing bright, intensely flavoured wines.
Although several red and white varietals – including Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Chardonnay – are produced in Salta wineries, the region is best known as the epicentre for the country’s signature white wine Torrontés – the only 100% Argentinian white grape variety.
Salta wineries, or bodegas in Spanish, are concentrated in the fertile Calchaqui Valley and neighbouring Cafayate with 50 high altitude bodegas scattered throughout the region, which include the oldest working winery in Argentina.
Torrontés is grown elsewhere in Argentina but struggles to reach the same perfumed perfection as in Cafayate – making the area a must-travel destination for intrepid wine tourists.
Our Argentinian local expert can organise exclusive tours of Salta wineries, which can be tailored to meet your exact specifications while ensuring that every last detail is taken care of.
These include a private tour of the Cafayate region allowing visitors to explore the picturesque valley where alpacas roam freely and locals still dress in the traditional colourful clothing of the altiplano (high plain), as well as the wonderfully relaxed setting and welcoming atmosphere of the town itself.
Of course, there is also the opportunity to sample wines grown at high altitudes and a bespoke local cuisine experience where wines are paired with specialities including a traditional asado (BBQ) and empanadas or tamales in the bodega’s old colonial house.
Among Salta wineries that come highly recommended is El Esteco, in the heart of the Calchaqui Valley. Founded by French immigrants David Michel and Gabriela Torino in 1892, the vineyards take advantage of the perfect storm of wine growing conditions – high altitude, low rainfall, natural irrigation and ever present sunshine with variable temperatures between night and day – to create some beautifully balanced wines.
Of the other Salta wineries that deserve mention is Bodega San Pedro de Yacochuya, a privileged nook only 8km from Cafayate that was developed by Wine Paths own consultant and world renowned winemaker Michel Rolland in partnership with Arnaldo Etchart.
The state of the art winery largely produces red varietals from the 60-year old vines in the famed Calchaqui Valley, which are aged in French oak barrels – Yacochuya wines were the first to be barrel-fermented in Argentina. The best wines to emerge from here have been the San Pedro de Yacochuya (Malbec with a hint of Cabernet Sauvignon) and the premium Yacochuya.
In the last few years, the passion of local bodegas, some of which have been owned by the same families for centuries, and the expertise of consultant European winemakers have brought a revolution in quality – if this continues, Salta could soon be one of the most exciting wine regions in the world.
For more information visit our Argentina destination page before you start planning an exclusive tour of Salta wineries to experience the height of wines that Argentina has to offer.
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