• Bolivian Wine Regions

    There are numerous valleys where wine has been traditionally produced in Bolivia for more than 400 years. The most important regions today comprehend 3,000 hectares and are divided into: – Central Valley of Tarija with 2,400 hectares of vineyards between 1,600 to 2,150 masl (meters above sea level) – Valley of Los Cintis with 300 hectares between 2,220 and 2,414 masl – Valleys of Santa Cruz with 100 hectares between 1,600 and 2030 masl – Various valleys in PotosĂ­, La Paz and Cochabamba with around 200 hectares between 1,600 and around 3,000 masl Even though the vineyards in Bolivia are located between 17.00Âş and 21.53Âş latitude south of the Equator and above the typical viticultural belt of the southern hemisphere, the climate is temperate and semiarid due to the high altitude of the valleys. Coming down from the “Cordillera de los Andes” and “Cordillera Real” mountain ranges with picks of more than 6,500 masl (21,300 feet asl) down to the low lands of the Amazons, Bolivia has numerous small valleys where grapevines have been growing for centuries.

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  • Bolivian Wine Sector

    The following unique features characterize the Bolivian wine sector:

    USP (unique selling proposition) of the Bolivian Wine

    100% of all Bolivian vineyards are grown between 1,600 and 3,000 meters above see level. There is no other country in the world with these characteristics. – Existence of ancestral vineyards with vines of around 300 years grown around molle trees. – Elegant style, medium to high quality wines produced in small volumes in an exotic yet undiscovered viticultural country.

    Highest Vineyard Surface of the World

    It is a pleasant surprise to understand that all of Bolivian vineyards are situated at altitudes ranging from 1,600 to around 3,000 masl (5,000 – 10,000 feet asl). Bolivia can very well be considered the country with the highest vineyard surface in the world. By 1993, after discovering the subtle differences in wine quality due to different altitudes, the Bolivian wine sector developed the concept of “High Altitude Wines”, an attribute that positions Bolivian wine as a unique product in the world.

    Authenticity: unique ancestral Vineyards

    Bolivia has the incredible characteristic of still maintaining its gorgeous ancestral vineyards. Something typical of all the wine regions of Bolivia is that the country has kept its ancestral viticultural tradition in entire regions such as Los Cintis and other valleys, were old vines are still in production. There are vines of up to 300 years of age that are still growing mainly around “molle” trees (Schinus molle) as well as “chañar” trees (Geoffroea decorticans) keeping the old colonial training system. Every year “molle” trees are severely pruned to improve sunlight penetration for the vine which grows around the trunk and branches of the tree creating a stunting picture of our ancestral viticultural history.

    Styles of wine made in Bolivia

    77% Red wines (entry, varietals, reserves, premiums and icon wines) – 20% White wines (entry, varietals, reserves, premiums and semi sweet Muscat wines) – 3% RosĂ©, desert, sparkling and fortified wine.

    Minimum percentages for vintage and varietal bottling

    Not formally regulated. Wineries are respecting 90% for vintage, 85% for varietal bottling and 100% for specific regions. Due to the large extension of the country, wines are bottled 100% locally and transported only when bottled. As for the rest of South America, vintage differences are very small achieving always fruit maturity. Differences will occur mainly due to variability in precipitation and on occasional years do to the localized effect of hailstorms.

    CSR and Environmental and Occupational Regulations

    The Bolivian Institute of External Commerce (IBCE) is one of the entities involved in promoting CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility; RSE in Spanish). All wineries have taken CSR initiatives in close relation with governmental regulations as well as by their own free disposition.

    Quality and Standards

    SENASAG (Servicio Nacional de Seguridad Alimentaria e Inocuidad Alimentaria) is responsible for quality control certifying the wineries as well as the products for the national and international markets. Its work is supported by a number of laboratories as the one from the University Juan Misael Saracho from Tarija and the CENAVIT (National Viticulture and Enology Center).

    Laws and Regulations of the Sector

    The wine sector is regulated by a specific Supreme State Decree revised in 1999 as well as numerous norms for the production, bottling and commercialization of wine and singani. In addition to the above decree and norms, the Supreme Law 1334 of 1992 established the Denomination of Origin for singani.

    Research and Development High Altitude Wine Research

    The unique condition of the Bolivian viticulture of altitude and its potential for the production of quality wines is a completely new world topic for investigation. High quality wines from Tarija that earned numerous international wine contests are now being currently studied to determine with scientific precision the intricate characteristics and beneficial effects of altitude and the accompanying factors in the production of premium wine. Among the studies on high altitude wines the University AJMS of Tarija has found higher concentrations of resveratrol in red wines from Bolivia compared with wines from lower vineyards produced in other countries.

    National Viticulture and Enology Center – CENAVIT

    CENAVIT is the national research and extension center for viticulture and enology. It is located in the town of Uriondo in the Central Valley of Tarija. Since its foundation in 1972, it has served the sector in the provision of laboratory services, extension work in viticulture as well as enology, practical research for the sector and the provision of vegetative grapevine material.

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  • Laws and Regulations of the Sector

    The wine sector is regulated by a specific Supreme State Decree revised in 1999 as well as numerous norms for the production, bottling and commercialization of wine and singani. In addition to the above decree and norms, the Supreme Law 1334 of 1992 established the Denomination of Origin for singani.

    Supreme decree No 6521

    Alcoholic products must be bottled within the region of production. Transportation and commercialization of alcoholic products in bulk is not authorized and is subject to sanctions.

    Supreme Decree No 24777

    The decree regulates and promotes the viticulture and enology development.

    Law No 3053 (year 2005)

    This law declares the necessity to implement a system to mitigate hail damage.

    Supreme Decree No 25569

    Declares the establishment of the CENAVIT (National Viticulture and Enology Center) with the responsibility to promote the development of the sector as well as improve production quality, marketing, transportation and competitiveness of the Bolivian wines.

    Law No 1334 (year 1992)

    Recognizes the Denomination of Origin for the singani in the Central Valley of Tarija, in the Valleys of Cinti and in other regions of La Paz and PotosĂ­.

    Law No 3048

    Declares the city of Tarija as “National Capital of Grapes and Wine”.

    Law 3685

    Declares the elaboration of artisanal wines in the provinces of AvilĂ©s and MĂ©ndez (Tarija) as “Cultural Patrimony”.

    Law 529

    Controls the consumption and commercialization of alcoholic beverages. Describes control measures to producers, traders and consumers as well as publicity.

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  • Introduction of Grapevines by the Spaniards – 1548

    With a similar story than the rest of South America, grapevines were introduced to Bolivia in the colonial times with the arrival of Spanish conquerors in 1548. The main varieties introduced to the country were “Moscatel of Alexandria” and “Misionera” known also as “Negra Criolla”, grape cuttings that thrived in the Bolivian valleys, and were soon introduced to the most remote corners of the country. The grapevines would then be beautifully grown wrapping around “molle” trees (Schinus molle) in stunning traditional system that can still be seen today in most of the valleys of the country.

    Production of wine and Singani for the mines in PotosĂ­

    In 1545 the great Cerro Rico (rich mountain) of PotosĂ­ was rediscover by the Spanish conquerors, a silver mine of such dimensions that its stories reached the ends of the world, calling numerous visionaries to settle in Bolivia. By 1630 the great city of PotosĂ­ had a larger population than most of the capitals of Europe, larger than London. The mines of PotosĂ­ were at their prime; the largest and richest silver mines in existence, and produced the craved mineral for most of the world. It is rumored that the silver extracted from the Cerro Rico was enough to build a bridge across the continent, linking PotosĂ­ to Spain. Silver coins were PotosĂ­ main product that would be exported across Europe and into the rest of the world. The great wealth of the colonial city would soon demand the most exquisite products from around the globe, including large quantities of wines and distillates. PotosĂ­ became indeed the “Paris of the world”. The established European culture required that Bolivia produce its own wine and distillates in its neighboring valleys. Since PotosĂ­ rises to an altitude of 4,050 meters above see level (masl) or over 13,000 feet above see level, the Bolivian wine was also distilled to produce a strong beverage, one that would protect the population from the reigning cold weather. And this is how Bolivia’s traditional drink came to birth. A noble, clear and pure distillate of Moscatel of Alexandria grapes grown above 1,600 masl, one that would not need to be aged in wood barrels following the paths of traditional noble distillates, because even after been distilled the singani kept its typical elegance and Muscatel’s aroma intact.

    Production of Singani with technology in Los Cintis

    By 1930′s, the latest French technology was introduced to wineries in the region of Los Cintis, a region concentrated mainly in the production of Singani. As the years passed, the region developed so quickly around the production of singani and wine that it became the largest industrial tax contributor of the country.

    Introduction of technology for production of wines in Tarija

    Around the late 1960′s, Bolivian wineries started investing in technology from Argentina, with the purpose of spreading the production of wine in the Central Valley of Tarija. And through this modernization and expansion, an important period begins, one that leaves artisanal wine production and delves into controlled and fully modernized production process. Soon, a well developed viticulture sector was established throughout Tarija for the production of table wine as well as for singani. Starting in 1978, noble European grapevines were introduced at a commercial level by the hand of modern wine technology letting us discover the great potential for the production of premium quality wines in the high altitude valleys of Bolivia.

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