High varietals





Another intoxicating export from the Andes


IN 2010 the Netherlands’ Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, which is financed by the government, sent Cees van Casteren to Bolivia. His mission was to help Bolivia’s vintners break into Europe. It was a tough assignment. Back then, Bolivia’s main winemakers—Kohlberg, Campos de Solana and Aranjuez, all family-owned—competed fiercely to sell cheap wine to a tiny protected domestic market. The intoxicating export for which Bolivia is famous is cocaine.

2010年,由政府资助的荷兰促进发展中国家进口中心将赛斯·范·卡斯特林(Cees van Casteren,全球认证的“葡萄酒大师”之一)送到了玻利维亚。他的任务是帮助玻利维亚的葡萄酒商打入欧洲市场。这是一项艰巨的任务。当时,玻利维亚的主要酿酒品牌——Kohlberg、Campos de Solana和Aranjuez——都是家族所有——在一个很小的受保护的国内市场销售廉价葡萄酒,竞争很激烈。玻利维亚著名的毒品出口商品是可卡因。

The idea that Bolivia might aspire to bottle something better is not silly. Spanish priests made wines there in the 16th century. The modern industry started in the 1960s, when the Kohlbergs brought vines from Europe to make wine to relieve a family member’s heart condition.


Bolivia’s vineyards in the Andean region of Tarija are among the world’s highest, at 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) above sea level. Intense sunshine gives grapes’ skins more tannin and wide daily temperature swings increase the acidity of their juice. That makes tannats, malbecs and cabernet sauvignons “fresh”, and “spicier” than lower-altitude wines, says Mr van Casteren, one of 394 “masters of wine”.

位于安第斯山脉塔里亚地区的玻利维亚葡萄园是世界上最高的葡萄园之一,海拔2000米(6500英尺)。强烈的阳光使葡萄皮有更多的单宁酸,而宽广的每日温度波动增加了葡萄汁的酸度。作为394位“葡萄酒大师”之一的范 卡斯特林表示,这使得该地区生产的丹拿、马尔贝克和赤霞珠葡萄酒(均为酿造葡萄酒的葡萄品种)比低纬度地区的葡萄酒 “更新鲜”、“更带劲”。

But putting them on European tables has not been easy. The first step was to bring the feuding families together to agree on how to spend the Dutch aid and to come up with a shared brand for Bolivian wines. “They wouldn’t even sit together at the same table,” says Mr van Casteren. No one showed up to the first meeting he called. Eventually, they forged friendships on tours of European vineyards.

但要把它们放到欧洲的桌子上并不容易。第一步是让这几个不和的家族酿酒商召集到一起,就如何使用荷兰的援助达成一致,并为玻利维亚葡萄酒推出一个共享的品牌。“他们甚至都不会坐在同一张桌子旁,”范 卡斯特林表示。他召集的第一次会议没有人到场。最后,这些酿酒家族在参观欧洲葡萄园时才勉强走到了一起。

Bolivian vintners cannot compete against Argentines and Chileans as mass producers for a global market. The cost of planting a hectare of vines is 20% higher than in Mendoza, Argentina’s top winemaking region, says Luis Pablo Granier, a co-owner of Campos de Solana. Bolivian vineyards have one-third of Mendoza’s yield per hectare. Bolivia is landlocked, so freight costs are high. An overvalued currency makes the Bolivians less competitive. So the families agreed to make better wines. Prodded by Mr van Casteren, they bought oak casks for ageing and upgraded irrigation systems. Prizes followed.

在全球市场上,玻利维亚的葡萄酒商无法与阿根廷和智利的大规模生产商竞争。Campos de Solana酿酒公司的共同所有人路易斯 巴勃罗 格朗涅尔(Luis Pablo Granier)说,在玻利维亚种植一公顷葡萄藤的成本比阿根廷顶级酿酒区门多萨高出20%。但是玻利维亚的葡萄园每公顷产量只有门多萨的三分之一。玻利维亚是内陆国家,因此运费很高。高估的货币使得玻利维亚的竞争力下降。于是两个酿酒家族同意合作酿造更好的葡萄酒。在范 卡斯特林先生的催促下,他们购买了橡木桶用于发酵和升级灌溉系统。这样做的好处也随之而来。

Big sales and high profits have not. Bolivia’s producers are too small to attract interest from European distributors and cannot themselves afford to market and distribute. To expand they would need to buy more land. But arable land in Tarija suitable for irrigation is scarce and expensive. Bolivian vintners have planted just 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres), a fraction of Argentina’s 220,000 hectares of vineyards.


They hope that locals will develop more of a thirst for the good stuff. Bolivia’s 11m people drink just 14m litres (3m gallons) of wine a year, a 20th of consumption in Belgium, which has the same number of people. Before covid-19, the National Association of Winegrowing Industries predicted volume would grow by 7% a year. Bolivian producers are protected by tariffs on imports of up to 40%. But those encourage contraband wine, especially from Argentina. A third of wine consumed in Bolivia is smuggled through the southern border.

他们希望当地人会对好东西产生更多的渴望。玻利维亚的1100万人口每年只喝1400万升(300万加仑)的葡萄酒,占比利时消费量的20%,而比利时的人口与玻利维亚相当。在新冠疫情之前,玻利维亚葡萄酒种植行业协会(National Association of Winegrowing Industries)曾预测该国葡萄酒产量将以每年7%的速度增长。玻利维亚生产商受到高达40%的进口关税保护。但这些措施反而鼓励了走私葡萄酒,尤其是来自阿根廷的葡萄酒。玻利维亚消费的三分之一的葡萄酒是通过南部边境走私的。

The temptation is to go down-market, especially after the economic shock from covid-19. But the Bolivians are loth to give up their newly won reputation for quality. “We’ve realised that is where our strength is,” says Mr Granier. Now they have to convince oenophiles at home and abroad.