Altitude wine and spirits

Bolivia has the highest vineyards in the world in continuous production since colonial times.

Vineyards in Tarixa start at over 5,250 feet and normally run to about 6,500 feet in elevation.  There are vineyards at over 9,000 feet, but access and care are difficult, and plot sizes are small because of reduced terrain, thus vineyards that high contribute proportionately less to production.

In 1992 the Bolivian government issued Decree 25569 stating that special strains of the varieties of Vitis vinifera growing at 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) or higher are to be legaly known as “Altitude Strains”.  Singani is defined as “Altitude Singani” and wines are defined as “Altitude Wines” based on this altitude criterion.

According to CENAVIT (the organization for standards, research, and development of Bolivia’s grape industries), high altitude growth produces greater character in wines and spirits marked by significant increases in the following compounds

  • Due to higher UV light at high elevations, greater concentrations of anti-oxidant polyphenols, anthocyanins, and reservatrol
  • Due to higher mountain solar luminosity and strong daily temperature fluctuations in the thin air, greater concentrations of aromatic terpenols such as geraniol, linalool, and nerol

When treated appropriately during the fermentation and distillation process, these substances are present in higher concentrations in the final product, wine or Singani, thus giving them their attractive character.  Mountain grown results in a more flavorful, rich result, just as for coffee.