When you talk about wines from Argentina, without a doubt the region of Mendoza is going to come up. Mendoza is the most important wine region of Argentina considering that 75% of all Argentine wine is produced there.
Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1560’s Native American tribes such as the Puelche, Huarpe and Incas inhabited the area. Civilization in Mendoza dates back to 300 AD. These tribes developed the first irrigation system in this area in order to grow crops like potatoes and corn. The main tribe responsible is the Huarpe tribe. They arrived in Mendoza in the mid 1400’s. It wasn’t until 1561 when Pedro del Castillo came an conquered that area in the name of Spain founding the Mendoza that we know today.
The Spaniards then copied the successful irrigation system that the Huarpe tribe had created and carried it all throughout Mendoza as well as the surrounding provinces. Without this system the Spanish civilization wouldn’t have been able to survive due to Mendoza’s desert climate. The colonization of Mendoza wasn’t without its hardships. Due to insufficient funds and labor shortages times were difficult. Naturally in true conquest form the Spanish employed the Native Americans to do these jobs but later ousted them from their homelands to Chile and ended up using slaves of African decent instead.
Slave labor immensely expanded Mendoza’s agricultural reach. By the 1700s Spaniards, or more accurately, the slaves, had built over 83 irrigation canals. When their agricultural section began to flourish this led to large advances in trading as well. The land became a large source for wine, olive oil, dried fruits and flour. Naturally all of the property and items up for trade belonged to the Spanish government and therefore it was illegal for the town to trade on their own. This was quite a nuisance and so General Jose de San Martin took it upon himself to liberate not only Argentina (in 1817) but also Chile and Peru.
Unfortunately for the citizens of Mendoza just a mere 44 years after their liberation a major earthquake took place killing over 5,000 people. Along with the deaths came detrimental damage. Fortunately the residents banned together to rebuild following a newer more urban design. That meant bigger plazas and wider streets which quite distinct from the older Spanish-conquered cities such as Cordoba.
As of 2010 the census stated the Mendoza’s population is 115,041. It’s area is 54 kilometers squared which is about 21 miles. There are five main plazas there: Plaza Independencia, Plaza San Martin, Plaza Chile, Plaza Italia and Plaza España. The streets are set up in a grid pattern which make it very easy to navigate. Today, Mendoza sees many tourists for the surrounding grape and olive vineyards in the area.