Travel: Quebrada de Humahuaca
Home to the world’s highest vineyard, this dramatic north Argentinian valley is a fascinating place for adventurous wine lovers to explore. Sorrel Moseley-Williams shares her tips
Rewards for the intrepid: Sorrel Moseley-Williams in rural Argentina
DRAMATIC MOUNTAIN RANGES, indigenous villages and Inca history await in Quebrada de Humahuaca, tucked away in Argentina’s remote northwest province Jujuy. Since 9,000 BC, early huntergatherers, the Quechua people, conquistadors and European migrants have made this altitudinous valley their home, and a captivating indigenous identity still flourishes.
Granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003, the Quebrada comes especially alive during carnival, a high-spirited pagan festival celebrated in February and also in August. This is the time when jujeños give thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth).
An array of picturesque villages dot the valley such as Purmamarca, nestled at the foot of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colours), and Tilcara. Either would make a great base for a visit, with a choice of luxury and traditional lodgings as well as restaurants serving llama dishes and spicy empanadas.
While Uco Valley and Cafayate are Argentina’s benchmark for making wine at altitude, the Quebrada is taking those extremes to new heights; it is home to the world’s highest vineyard at 3,329m above sea level. Granted Geographical Indication (GI) in 2015, just 12 years after the first commercial plantings, what the tiny 22ha Quebrada lacks in size it makes up for with flamboyant character.
The Quebrada’s winemaking story is both new and extreme, starting at 2,192m altitude in Chañarcito and ending 50km north and 1,137m higher near Uquía. When a law that permitted only tobacco and sugar cane plantations was relaxed in 2003, agricultural engineer Fernando Dupont saw opportunity. His pioneering Bodega Fernando Dupont (www.bodegafernandodupont.com) is
Right: the village of Purmamarca at the foot of the dramatic Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colours)