Sunday, December 10, 2006


In 1835, Charles Darwin laid eyes upon the spectacular Andes Mountains that lay before him. At the foot of the jagged, snow-capped ridges lay a small town called Mendoza. To many travelers, Mendoza looked like a paradise after the rugged two-week trek across the pampas from the European metropolis of Buenos Aires. But experienced explorer Darwin thought otherwise, “To my mind the town has a stupid, forlorn aspect to it…but, to those who, coming from Buenos Ayres, have just crossed the unvaried pampas, the gardens and orchards must appear delightful.”

The canals and the contrast in flora are some of the only aspects that remain in present-day Mendoza. Twenty-first century Mendoza is home to a multi-billion dollar wine industry that is world renowned for its Malbec red wine. Geographically, Mendoza is located in the western region of Cuyo, bordered by the Andes Mountains and Chile in the west. It is known for its dry, hot summers and mild, yet humid winters. For centuries, the natives to Mendoza have utilized the rainwater that flows off the Andes Mountains each spring for hydroelectric power and irrigation.

With an emphasis on the past 15 years, this paper will explore the evolution of the wine industry since its initial growth in 1880. Although special attention will be paid to the impact of government institutions in the province of Mendoza, economic and historical factors will be explored as well.

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