Bolivian wine includes red wines, white wines, dessert wines, fortified wines, and sparkling wines.[1] Bolivia is not a well-know wine country, however there are small wine factories.[2] The wine industry of Bolivia is based in south-center city of Tarija,[3] which 80% of country's total vineyard is located.[1]

History

The history of the wine making in Bolivia starts from 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish people. In order to supply the monastic orders that traveled with the conquistadors with wine for the sacrament, vineyards were established.[1] Franciscan monks planted the first vine in the Tarija.[4]

Early times

Bolivia being is fully in tropical latitudes was a big issue for wine makers. Although grapevines, a Mediterranean plant, do not thrive in tropical climates, the Spanish eventually found success by planting them in valleys at high altitudes. Colonists were able to locate temperatures that were better for the vine over 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) elevation, and they planted Criolla varieties here, including grapevines of Negra Criolla (also known as Mission, Pas, and Criolla Chica) and Muscat of Alexandria.[5]

Modern times

Singani bottles and samples from 1930.

Since the 1960s and 1970s, when modern wine making technology and expertise first entered the nation, viticulture and wine making have advanced significantly.[5]

Although just a small percentage of the 7,500 acres of vineyards in Bolivia are made up of Muscat of Alexandria, the majority of those 3,000 hectares are. The majority of this output is turned into wine, which is eventually distilled to create singani, the national brandy of Bolivia manufactured from Muscat of Alexandria. This 40% fragrant spirit is often consumed blended with ginger ale or regional fruit juices and captures the aromatic strength of the Muscat grape.[5][6]

Bolivian winemakers have been experimenting with planting different grape varieties since the 1990s, focusing on red grape varieties that could be well suited to the high-altitude land. When vineyards are located between 1,500 and 2,800 meters above sea level (4,921 and 9,186 feet), thin-skinned varieties generally cannot tolerate increased UV radiation. Success has been achieved with lesser known French and Spanish varieties and some modern crosses.[5]

Geography and climate

Main articles: Geography of Bolivia and Climate of Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the most geographically challenging countries in the world.[7] It is fully in tropical climate latitudes which is not good for viticulture.[5] The country is located in high altitudes.[3] 99% of all vineyards in the country are situated between 1600 and 3000 meters.[1] In all parts of the world, the wine is being made at sea level, 800m, 1000m, a little more, however, Bolivian wine yards are mostly concentrated at an altitude of 1600-2000 meters or even in the hot regions of the Andes there are crops up to 3000 meters.[8]

The high altitude of Bolivia gives the country's wines a unique taste. The average vineyard starts at 1500 meters above sea level where sun shine is intense. And due to the atmosphere being thinner the grapes change.[9][10] Moreover, vineyards benefit from lack of winds and humidity at night.[8] Daytime temperatures can fluctuate above 35 degrees, which increases acidity, and summer rains dilute the wine.[9]

Grape varieties

Vineyards in Bolivia are dominated by Muscat of Alexandria. However, white wine grapes like Torrontes, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pedro Giménez, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay[11] and red wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Tannat, Charmene can be found too. Grapes are harvested both for wine production and for the historic Singani industry, a clear brandy that is widely considered a national spirit.[1][7]

Wine regions

Tarija valley

The Tarija valley is Bolivia's main wine-producing region.[12] 93% of the grapes intended for wine production are concentrated in the southern part of the Tarija Valley. Altitudes range from 1,600 to 2,150 meters. The valley is wide and fertile, with a slightly Mediterranean climate and strong winds that prevent the vineyards from ripening their fruit. A fresh eastern breeze influences the viticulture, contributing to the fresh and elegant style of the region.[13][1]

However, due to the altitude, conditions are generally mild and semi-arid. Irrigation is taken from rivers located in different valleys.[1]

Los Cintis Valley

The valley has 300ha of vineyards.[1] It is located 2400 meters above sea level.[13] The area is considered as the spiritual home of small-scale, traditional winemaking. There are about 30 vineyards with parrale or climbing vines of about 100-250 years old, interspersed with molle and chañar trees.[9]

Santa Cruz Valley

It constitutes 100ha of area.[1][13]

The area is home to Bodega Uvairenda wine factory. It was founded in early 2000.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bolivian Wine and Brandy". Wine Searcher. 31 January 2023. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  2. ^ "Bolivian Wine – A Guide To The Best Places To Buy It – SloWine". 2022-12-20. Retrieved 2023-08-29.
  3. ^ a b Otis, Jonh (15 October 2019). "Grown At High Altitudes, Bolivia's Wines Are Rising Stars". NPR. Retrieved 30 August 2023.
  4. ^ Meghji, Shafik; Keeling, Stephen. The Rough Guide to Bolivia. Rough Guides Limited. p. 187. ISBN 9780241199848.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Armstrong, Darren (2019-02-15). "Best wine in Bolivia & Bolivian wine varieties". South America Wine Guide. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  6. ^ M. Carrie, Allan (3 January 2016). "The absolutely delicious Bolivian spirit all drinkers need to know". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 August 2023.
  7. ^ a b De Herrera, Alan. "Bolivian wines". Alan De Herrera. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  8. ^ a b Brown, Hannah (2021-05-25). "Bolivian Wine: High altitude, high quality and...healthy?". euronews. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  9. ^ a b c Pett, Shaun (2018-09-24). "Never Heard of Bolivian Wine? That May Be About to Change". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 27 September 2022. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  10. ^ Spurrell, Megan (2021-01-20). "Why Bolivia Should Be Your Next Wine Destination". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  11. ^ "Vinos 1750 - Uvairenda - Winery in Santa Cruz | Winetourism.com". www.winetourism.com. Retrieved 2023-08-30.
  12. ^ Read, James (2002). The Rough Guide to Bolivia. Rough Guides. ISBN 9781858288475.
  13. ^ a b c Terrazas, Aubrey. "Bolivian Wine: A New Voice in South America". www.guildsomm.com. Retrieved 2023-08-30.

See also