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

Decanter - - CONTENTS -

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.

Wine highs

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)

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