Portuguese and English are often heard in Argentine wineries. In the past 20 years, Mendoza has become an attractive region for oenotourism, not only for Argentine travellers, but for Brazilians and Americans. As a result, the hospitality staff now need to speak both languages.
There are good reasons to visit, ranging from the magnificent architecture to the vineyard-surrounded restaurants and the dramatic landscape at the foot of the Andes. Above all there are the Argentinians themselves, hospitable people who never seem in a bad mood. Yet only 30 years ago, Argentina didn’t attract wine lovers and consumed almost all of the wine it produced. The style was old fashioned – more or less oxidised wines made from plants forced to grow huge quantities of grapes – and so were the wineries. They used big wooden vats, sometimes made of rauli (beech), to ferment and store the wine. Cool fermentation was unknown. Most of the production was cheap and sold in 5-litre demijohns called ‘damajuana’. It was possible to make good wines the old way, but few wineries did.