Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, producing somewhat more in an average year that Australia. That fact is surprising, given that Argentina winemaking was largely unknown outside of Argentina and its neighboring nations until the 1990s, when long-time producers and innovative newcomers started making higher quality wines with an eye to exporting. With its extremely high vineyards – usually between 2,300 and 4,600 feet above sea level – Argentina’s grapes are richly flavored due to widely fluctuating day and night temperatures, and virtually free of disease. Malbec is the most widely grown grape, followed by Bonarda. Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Merlot are just a few of the other red wine grapes grown. Torrontés is the most distinctive white grape, though Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are some of the other commonly grown white grapes. Many wine writers say that Argentina is South America’s leader in high quality wines, and prestigious wine producers from Europe and the U.S. have flocked to Argentina to open wineries or to partner with other vignerons. Among the big international names involved in winemaking in Argentina are the Rothschilds of Lafite, Moet et Chandon, Pierre Lurton of Cheval Blanc, Paul Hobbs and Michel Rolland.