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The year of 2020 in Argentina, will undoubtedly be remembered for its healthy yield and the repercussions of the mandatory quarantine enacted by the Argentine government due to Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Tourism is one of the most important commercial areas for Argentine wineries with more than 150 companies receiving more than one million visitors per year. As a consequence, the most hard-hit sector during this time is enotourism. Many of them have to deal with more than 1000 daily cancellations a day.
On the other hand, the prevention and security measures that were enacted by the government greatly influenced the practices of the wineries and vineyards.
Naturally, it had an impact on the daily tasks as Alejandro Vigil, Chief Winemaker at Catena Zapata, highlights: “the most important thing is the lack of workforce”, even though he remarks that there was no harm on the quality of the grape.
Due to the warmer temperatures, the cycles of many grapes finished in advance and were therefore harvested earlier than usual. That avoided a massive impact on the work performed in the vineyards because of the sanitary measures.
However, the activities that take place within the winery underwent a series of changes. Juan Pablo Michelini, winemaker at Winery Zorzal, commented that “out of the 11 workers, there is only Noelia Juri and me to take care of everything”.
“We performed the disinfection of the tanks, the arrival of the grapes, the delestages, the devatting and much more”. Although, Juan Pablo sees the bright side of it all: “I acquired knowledge on how to manage people and time when everything goes back to normal”.
In the Calchaqui valleys, there wasn’t a lot of difference. Nonetheless, due to the lack of workforce and implementation of precautionary measures, some delays were added in relation to the reception of grapes and the logistics of supplies.
For example, Claudio Maza, Chief Winemaker at El Esteco winery mentioned that “we still experience some delays in the reception of grapes from third parties”, which added to the difficulties related to the restriction of working hours and increasing control and sanitary measures at the winery. This, in turn, will cause an economic impact “especially on the consumers’ side which will lower down for sure”.
He also sees the bright side when he thinks about the harvest because “this whole thing caught us in the middle of it so in general terms there weren’t many severe problems apart from the modifications”.
When it comes to supplies, the harvest was affected. For Rafael Domingo, from Domingo Molina, it was an issue since “we had difficulties to get the supplies from Mendoza”, especially during the first few days.
“This harvest will be remembered forever”, says Franco Falasco, winemaker at Los Haroldos and Falasco Premium Wines, who highlighted that “fortunately it happened at the end of the harvest for many small and medium producers who were finishing or about to finish”. However, for his wineries, he is still two weeks far from the reception of grapes.
He also remarks that “the manual harvest was affected” and because of that, he used a lot more of the mechanic mode. Due to the warm weeks, many different grapes ripened simultaneously. Therefore, they had to harvest Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah altogether. This is why he wonders: “When have we seen Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon being harvested at the same time? Never!”.
Now, all of the winemakers are anxiously waiting to bear the fruit of their 2020 harvest! Only time will tell!
Journalist. WSET® L2 Wines & Spirits. Passionate about communicating the wonderful world of wine. Member of ‘Argentina Wine Bloggers’. Critic at ‘Vino Sub30 2015 edition’. Collaborator in Argentine Association of Sommeliers.