Cuisine in Cordoba is a very important factor, including the elaboration of regional food and drinks, such as cheeses, sausage products, marmalades, preserved food, beers and wines.
Wine production is focused in the village of Colonia Caroya, just 48 km away from the City of Cordoba, and fully integrated into the Argentine enological-tourist circuit.
A little bit of history
Although the first vines were planted in Santiago del Estero province, the true history of Argentina’s wine industry began nearly a century later in Cordoba.
It was so in 1618, the Jesuits settled in the present territory of the province, starting with wine production. Among the various properties possessed by the Society of Jesus, they chose the Estancia de Jesus Maria – strategically located on the side of Camino Real- to develop production of this noble drink and from there distribute the rest of his possessions. When you visit the current museum, you can observe some of the tools used for winemaking work, demonstrating the advanced development that had these priests for their time.
With the expulsion of the Jesuit Order of the territories of the Crown -a mid-eighteenth century, by decision of Carlos III from Spain, decays this important industry and most of the vineyards are abandoned. After passing by more than a century, in 1878, a strong wave of migration -mainly Italian – friulana is installed in the area, rescuing from oblivion the old plantations and providing new knowledge and machinery arrivals from Europe.
The labor force and tenacity of immigrants built an important productive activity, which continued despite the economic and political vicissitudes suffered by the country during the last century and a half. The rapid growth of wine production in the provinces of Cuyo during this same period – supported by the National Law 12.137 / 34, which discouraged the production of wine outside the Andean provinces – stole some prominence to the Córdoba wine, although activity lasted on small family farms (not only in Colonia Caroya, but also in the Northwest and Traslasierra). Since mid-90’we witness the conversion of the area, opening a new phase of expansion.
The area planted with vines has now reached 314 ha (approximately 0.14% of the national vineyard). More than two thirds of these hectares are located in the Colonia Caroya and surroundings; although there are small areas of vineyards in Traslasierra Valley Calamuchita and provincial Northwest. The varieties of grapes are planted Merlot and Frambua (also known as Isabella or “bedbug grape”), and other less diffusion as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
There are currently eleven wineries registered in the province, plus some 35 homemade wine authorized processors. The presence of small artisanal producers is a great tourist differential, it is the only region of the country that includes them in wine tours.
The remarkable development of the wine industry in Cordoba has not been a mere quantitative fact; the real change was purely qualitative, from the famous “regional” or “boats” wines sold at roadside bill, to remarkable products that can compete without problems in the domestic market.
Wine Roads in Cordoba
Cordoba’s Wine Route proposes visits to vineyards and wineries and regional wine tasting, some of them made from such uncommon varieties as the Isabella grape. This enotourist proposal integrates a circuit of gourmet routes with a remarkable and exquisite offer of pork meats and cold-cuts. Gathering history, traditions, landscapes and production techniques, artisanal producers and wineries invite visitors to go through Córdoba’s land and taste its wines at the winemaking areas of Calamuchita, Traslasierra and the Northwest. Enotourist proposals are enjoyable together with Jesuit Estancias -Mankind Heritage-, the old Royal Road and different gourmet routes, apart from lovely lakes and hills with the relaxing microclimate of the province.
Reinforcing the importance of winemaking in Córdoba, the annual festivals’ agenda includes celebrations related to this production like Grape’s National Festival and Provincial Grape Harvest Festival, celebrated in Colonia Caroya during March.
Circuit number one: Colonia Caroya and nearby (60 km north of the city of Córdoba)
The main circuit begins on National Route 9 in the city of Colonia Caroya and surroundings (reaching the picturesque village of Ischilín, 75 km northwest). Here you can experience closely the origin of this industry. You can start the tour with a visit to the National Jesuit Museum (at Estancia de Jesus Maria); then continue with a tour and tasting at one of the ancient cellars as La Caroyense or Nannini.
At noon, you can recharge your batteries in some of the many restaurants in town. The most recommended is Macadam, rustic and beautiful dining room where you can taste authentic Italian food.
In the afternoon, you can meet any of the home winemakers like Esteban Papalini of “Wines Vittorio Papalini”, Miguel Angel Patat of “Wines Aurelio” or Carlos Turcode “Establishment El Bosque”. Here you can see the traditional winemaking, as did the first immigrants to the region.
If you prefer driving for a little while, you can go up to the village of Ischilín to visit the small family winery Jairala Oller. There will be warmly received by the marriage formed by Beatriz Oller and Hector Jairala; who after many years around the world, found its place and fulfilled the dream of owning a winery. Conviviality and willingness of Beatriz, added to the incredible life story of Hector, you will not want leave that place.
If, with the entire bustle, it gets late and you decide to sleep in the area, the Hotel Casa del Friuli is an excellent choice, not only for its comfortable rooms at affordable prices, but also for its remarkable gastronomy.