Mendoza is the principle producing province with 143,764 hectares. It produces between 70% and 75% of the national wine followed by the province of San Juan with 48,869 hectares elaborating between 17% and 21%.

During the 70s the predominant tendency was massive production of ordinary table wines for domestic consumption. Due to the absence of defined vitivinicultural policies many wineries planted their vineyards in function of volume and not of quality. Price differentiation did not exist, nor was any relevance placed on trying to plant varieties of vines best adapted to each location (based on the soils and climate with the object of elaborating products of known types). Over-production caused deterioration in price and quality of the product. Planted surface area reached a historical height in 1977 with 350,680 hectares at which time abandonment and eradication of vineyards started in a sustained form. As has already been stated, this eradication tended to eliminate, along with abandoned and decrepit vineyards, those that were planted with varieties of low enological value or of large production since consumption was oriented more and more to quality wines. Between 1982 and 1992 a reduction of approximately 36% of previously existing area occurred.

Starting in 1992 and continuing until today, a slow recuperation of production area as well as quality has been observed. Varieties of high enological quality are being planted in ecological zones suitable for making high quality wines, as for example the Tupungato Valley in Mendoza. There is also a strong tendency of converting existing vineyards to varieties known for their excellent enological qualities as well as the planting of varieties suitable for fresh consumption and for raisins.

Almost all of Argentina’s viticultural area is planted with wine grapes. Only 2.06% is planted with raisin grapes and 1.88% with table grape varieties. Among the varieties in the market known for high enological quality we should mention Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah for red varieties and Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillón, Tokay Friulano and Ugni Blanc for white varieties. The area dedicated to these varieties is 14.18% (28,513 hectares) of the total area planted with wine grapes in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan. This corresponds to 16,901 hectares of red varieties and 11,612 hectares of white varieties. If varieties of medium enological value are also considered, the percentage rises to 65.95% of the national vineyards.

Along with being an important producer of wines, Argentina is also a large producer and the world’s largest exporter of concentrated grape juices. A special mention should be made to the grape juice industry, that is primarily concentrated juices, which has established itself as its own entity. It seems to have put behind the years of being simply an alternative industry depending on the availability of raw material, the evolution of prices and of interest in the elaboration of wines. For the 1995 harvest, the provincial governments of Mendoza and San Juan signed an agreement titled “Acuerdo Vitivinícola” (Vitivinicultural Agreement) whereby the obligation to set aside 30% of grape production for the elaboration of concentrated juices was established. In 1996 the percentage was fixed at 15% and in 1997 at 10%. These figures were easily broken due to the growing interest awakened by the excellent opportunities for these products in the international market. As such, in 1997, 37% of the grape production of San Juan, 28% of Mendoza and 29% nationally was finally destined to this end.

The opening of markets in consuming countries represents a new challenge for producing companies since they now have to adapt their production to the requirements of these expanding markets. In the elaborated products, as much wines as concentrated grape juices, a constant improvement in the quality can be seen. These improvements are being sustained by a determined attitude on the part of the producers to provide on-going training for their enologists to incorporate cutting edge technology in their respective wineries and concentrated juice plants to improve their product’s presentation, to modify their commercialization structure as well as the techniques and policies of marketing utilized. This entire process has permitted their response to the ever increasing demands of the market.

The process of importing technology from abroad hit the wine industry in 1992 after monetary stability was achieved. A determining factor was external financing that facilitated the purchase of machinery, principally of French and Italian manufacture. Convenient credit in terms of payment, interest rates and even two year grace periods helped even in the economically difficult moments such as those produced by the “Tequila Effect”. It is believed that by the end of the century the investment in machinery will reach two-hundred million dollars.

There are companies whose economic capacity does not allow them to make large investments in technology who however have improved their processes. Optimization in the management of their vineyards and elaboration procedures, turning to a more efficient management of all the available technologies within their reach has allowed them to participate in the overall improvement. The use of wood continues to be a unique and attractive way of improving quality. The present tendency is to work with new 200 – 220 liter wooden barrels.

The organization of the producers within the appellation system also constitutes a characteristic ambient, authenticity and guaranty of undeniably superior quality. Here we should mention the already formed appellation “Luján de Cuyo” and “San Rafael” in Mendoza, the “Famatina Valley” in the province of La Rioja, among others in the process of organization.

In terms of the development in wine consumption, according to the classification of J. Berger of the French Center of Foreign Trade, Argentina is located among the large consumers although it has not escaped the worldwide tendency in the reduction of consumption. In the decade of the 70s the consumption of wine in the country was more than 70 liters per person per year whereas in 1996 it had fallen to 41 liters per capita. Within this general reduction the greatest fall in sales has been to the lower extreme of the market in terms of quality. A redirection has been observed in the local market towards fine and sparkling wines. Nevertheless, this fall in consumption coupled with a decrease in production that occurred as a result of the reduction in planted area created a certain equilibrium between both that puts behind the ghost of surpluses.

The national market’s contraction, due to the reduction in consumption, has caused many companies to focus on exportations. The exportations of vitivinicultural products show a growing tendency especially in their FOB-values. In terms of importation, a fluctuating tendency is observed over the last six years as a function of the internal market’s supply and demand situation.