Production of fine wines in the Brazilian semi-arid region

Vineyard in Vale do São Francisco, semi-arid Northeast

Brazil produces wine since the beginning of its colonization. But was the arrival of the first Italian immigrants in 1875 that brought importance to the activity. Currently the production of fine wines in Brazil reaches 10,000 hectares of Vitis vinifera grapes, divided mainly among six regions: Serra Gaúcha, Campanha, Serra do Sudeste and Campos de Cima da Serra, in Rio Grande do Sul, Planalto Catarinense, in Santa Catarina , and the São Francisco Valley, in the Northeast of the country.

There are approximately 150 wineries making fine wines scattered throughout the country. The Brazilian wine industry is still formed by about 1,000 other wineries, most of them installed in small farms (an average of 2 hectares per family), dedicated to the production of table wines or artisan wines. In all, between vitis vinifera and table grapes, the area covered by vineyards in the country is approximately 89,000 hectares, in poles located from north to south.

In the São Francisco Valley, 15% of Brazil’s fine wines are produced – only Vale dos Vinhedos, in Rio Grande do Sul, has more expressive numbers. Wine production in the region began during the colonization, but gained importance in the 1970s.

With stony soil, few rainfall (less than 400 mm per year) and lots of sun and heat, the Brazilian semi-arid is not the typical place where you would expect to find wineries. But it is precisely the combination of climate and irrigation that allows grape maturation to occur more rapidly and several times a year. With the most modern techniques of pruning and irrigation allied to the climate of the region it is possible to have harvest several times in the same year.

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