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It’s high time to look to South America for wines

Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay are setting new standards in wine tourism.

South America’s preeminence in the domain of wine tourism is not new. In 2019, when William Reed Business Media decided to create this new ranking along the lines of their “50 Best Restaurants in the World,” the continent topped the list with Argentinian and Uruguayan vineyards in first and second places. The predominance of Zuccardi Valle de Uco and Bodega Garzon has been confirmed for 2020’s ranking, which was announced in an online ceremony due the pandemic.

Zuccardi, a must-visit for wine lovers

Best Vineyard Zuccardi

Zuccardi Valle de Uco, in Argentina, is the world’s best vineyard to visit

What do South American estates know how to do better than the Europeans in terms of wine tourism? (The first European estate to show up on the list is Spanish at number six.) Under consideration here is not wine quality but rather their innovation and development of characteristics attractive to visiting oenophiles. No less than 500 experts in the wine industry shared their top seven favorite estates, of which four were required to be from outside their specialty regions.

Also titleholder of the best wine tourism experience in South America, the overall winner has been at the forefront of Argentinian viticulture since 1963. In southwest Mendoza’s Uco valley, the Zuccardi family, now represented by its third generation, hosts its visitors in a contemporary, rough-cut stone building that blends into the landscape. The estate has its own restaurant right on the premises.

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Further west on the Atlantic coast, Bodega Garzon is a point of reference for Uruguayan wines, thanks for the careful cultivation of vines at 160 meters above sea level. Its advantage? The terroir created by some of the oldest soils on the planet. The grapes are harvested by hand. The estate won 2018’s “Best Winecellar in the New World” title awarded by Wine Enthusiast magazine, in part thanks to having understood the role of tourism in its success; it offers vineyard hikes, blending workshops, and picnics among the vines.

Visitors can even pick up a few Garzon’s ambassador chef Francis Mallmann’s secrets. He’s the world-renowned Argentinian master of wood-fire cooking who also officiates at the Château Lacoste near Aix-en-Provence in France.

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South America is also represented among the top 50 by Chile, with the Montes and Vina Vik estates.

As for Europe, Austria’s Wachau estate took the regional title. France is represented by the Bordeaux region’s Château Smith Haut-Lafitte in 7th place and Château Pichon Baron in 19th.

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