This represents 26.7% growth from 2019, with Argentina being one of only four countries with volume growth, followed by Italy, New Zealand and Portugal, making it the 10th largest wine exporter and the world’s fifth largest country for wine production.
Big wineries manage most of the exports, but smaller producers produce around 100,000 bottles each year, often fewer where Argentina’s creative power is really showing.
While the 2000s in Argentina were marked by large wineries and the growing influence of international winemakers and consultants such as Michelle Roland and Paul Hobbes, the small producer movement in Argentina began in 2010.
“What’s happening now is that big wineries like Catena and Zuccardi make small batches and act like small wineries, but they produce really interesting things,” said Hans Winding-Deers, owner of Bodega Noemia in Patagonia.
“At the same time, many winemakers and agronomists are creating their own characteristics and making a lot of noise because what small producers are doing is changing the image of the Malbec ocean, showing that Argentina has a diverse climate and region, and with some of the best wines in the world.”
Of the 900 wineries in Argentina, about two-thirds are small and run by only a handful of employees. Winemakers work to diversify Malbec by seeking out new terroirs, experimenting with new (and old) grape varieties, and stimulating wineries to innovate.
Estella Perinetti worked for Catena for two decades before starting her own boutique label Las Estelas, which makes wine from grapes grown on her family’s El Peral vineyard in the Uco Valley. Meanwhile, Oenologist Maria Jimena Lopez worked for Bodega Norton before creating her own Graffito label which produces Malbec and Cabernet Franc wines in Perdriere, Mendoza.
To survive as a small producer, their wine must first be good and have a strong sense of identity, which makes it one of the most attractive in nature.
Mariana Onofri. Facebook: Onofri Wine
Mariana Onofri is a sommelier and winemaker who launched her own wine brand Onofri Wines in 2014 and produces wines under the labels Alma Gemela and Zenith Nadir. With her husband Adan Giangiulio, she produces wine from old vineyards in Desierto de Laval in northern Mendoza and elsewhere in Los Chacayes, Uco Valley.
“It is the small producers who can violate the rules that the market deems necessary,” said Onofri. “We do what we want, and that’s nice, because there are consumers who are looking for wines that are different, have individuality and express something different. Small producers have shown that we have the potential to produce exceptional wines with individual character. “