If there is one word that defines wine production in Vale dos Vinhedos, it is identity. Preserving and adapting a more than century-old culture in the region of the municipalities of Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi and Monte Belo do Sul, the wine producers of the Valley develop in their products the tradition of the Italian immigrant people who arrived in Rio Grande do Sul in the mid-19th century .
Vale dos Vinhedos is a territory that presents ideal climatic, sunlight and soil conditions for the cultivation of certain gs. – with emphasis on Merlot. In order to preserve wine culture and attest to the quality of products developed in the region, the ociation of Fine Wine Producers of Vale dos Vinhedos (Aprovale) was created in 1995.
Aprovale’s executive director, Moisés Brandelli, explains the objective of the Valley’s producers in developing their wines. “We seek to increasingly preserve our identity and, with this identity, increase quality. It is not a choice to seek quality at any cost. We will have productive respect for the environment, and, with this respect, follow traditional practices so that we produce wines with this identity. This is our difference”, says Brandelli.
Talking about the history of the ociation’s founding, Aprovale’s director of wine tourism and infrastructure, Deborah Villas-Bôas, says that the main objective was to obtain certificates of Indication of Origin (IP) – which attests to the quality of the gs – and Denomination of Origin (DO) – which deals with the entire production process, from cultivation to winemaking.
Villas-Bôas explains that these certifications prove that the gs produced in the region have characteristics unlike any other. “The Denomination of Origin is only granted when that g, in that region, verified in a certain way, manages to produce a wine characteristic of that place, which is a wine that does not exist in any other region in the world”, states the director of Aprovale. This occurs because, even if the g grown is the same, variations in climate, soil and sunlight impact the properties of the final product.
This uniqueness of Vale dos Vinhedos wine is also a way to boost wine tourism. “When you taste a wine in the place where it is produced, the experience is completely different than a wine you buy on the supermarket shelf. Not only because of cultural perception, but mainly because this wine will have had better conditions to reach your hands — no transport, no long storage. This means you taste the wine in its best condition”, says Villas-Bôas. She further adds: “All these characteristics make wine tourism the most valued tourism segment in the world today, and this year the Brazilian government chose wine tourism as one of the segments in which the most investment should be made.”
In the view of the director of Aprovale, Brazil is the “new world” for wine lovers. “Brazil is one of the most sought after countries in the world in terms of wine, because we have developed techniques here that will enable wine production anywhere in the world”, says Villas-Bôas. She mentions wine production in arid regions, in mountains, at the top of the plateaus, in the Gaucho campaign, among others.
The director of Aprovale adds: “Those who traveled to European destinations discovered that in Brazil we have extremely high quality wine tourism, for all budgets and with internationally awarded wines. This movement has been increasingly strong.”
In this sense, Rio Grande do Sul can be considered the cradle of national winemaking. “Rio Grande do Sul is where Brazilian wine was born and is responsible for the production of 90% of fine national wines. And we have, in addition to the recognized quality of the wines, the tradition of Italian culture, which made Vale dos Vinhedos a ‘ very interesting mix. Anyone who comes here discovers how a culture that was established in the 19th century evolved and transformed a region”, says Villas-Bôas.
Producers from Vale dos Vinhedos evaluate the last six harvests as an “example of quality”
Executive director of Aprovale, Brandelli highlights the influence of climate on gs
Covering the territory of the municipalities of Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi and Monte Belo do Sul, Vale dos Vinhedos is one of the regions of Rio Grande do Sul that stands out most in terms of the quality of the wine produced. In the last six harvests – from 2018 to 2023 – the products manufactured were examples of high quality, greatly influenced by the favorable weather conditions recorded in recent years.
The executive director of the ociation of Fine Wine Producers of Vale dos Vinhedos (Aprovale), Moisés Brandelli, explains these positive results. “Not every year there were extremely harsh winters, which is ideal for gvines – it was cold enough for good productivity,” says Brandelli. He also says that rainy springs — but not too much — and dry summers influence the quality of the product.
This positive result, however, does not refer to the quantity of production, but to the quality of the wine. Due to the limits of the Vale dos Vinhedos region, quantitative production issues are limited to the territory of the three municipalities. Thus, the quantity of wines developed tends to be standard.
According to Brandelli, There is an element that can negatively affect the quantity of wines produced: frost. Despite this, the director of Aprovale states that this climatic event occurs on a punctual basis and does not interfere with the entire wine production in Vale dos Vinhedos. “It’s a point where rocks fall, but it’s not enough to affect the entire region,” says Brandelli.
For the 2024 harvest, producers expect to maintain the quality of the wine recorded in recent years. “We had a very slow winter, there were cold days and hot days. Still, it was clear that all the vines reached their dormancy stage, which is essential for them to save energy for the following year’s productivity”, says Brandelli. He considers, however, that the quality will still depend on the weather conditions in the coming days of 2023.
Calculations by entrepreneurs indicate that wine tourism has an average growth of 10% per year
The activity is so important that the vast majority of wineries located on the route today obtain most of their results from selling wine directly to tourists.
Although the amount of wine production in Vale dos Vinhedos is limited to the territory of the three municipalities that make it up — Bento Gonçalves, Gabribaldi and Monte Belo do Sul —, the tourist flow is growing significantly in the region. The director of infrastructure and wine tourism at the ociation of Fine Wine Producers of Vale dos Vinhedos (Aprovale), Deborah Villas-Bôas, states that the number of tourists has been increasing by 10% per year.
“Aprovale was founded in 1995. Since then, the Valley has consistently grown 10% per year in terms of tourist flow. We only had a drop during the pandemic period, and now we are completely rescued from this drop — We are already back to 2019 numbers”, says Villas-Bôas.
The director explains how this calculation of a flow increase of 10% per year is carried out: “This measurement is done internally (by the enterprises). We compile the data and also compare it with the data provided by the city halls of the three municipalities that make up the Vale dos Vinhedos”. Villas-Bôas states that the growth of wine tourism was greater than that recorded in wineries, precisely due to the territorial limitations that enterprises face in expanding.
From these difficulties, the tourist segment presents itself as the main alternative for increasing the income of wineries. “Wine tourism is so important that the vast majority of wineries located today in Vale dos Vinhedos obtain the majority of their results from selling wine directly to tourists. There are few wineries that have greater income from other sources “, explains Villas-Bôas.
An issue that brings good prospects for tourism in the region is the profile of visitors to the Valley. The director of Aprovale states that the majority of clients are not from Rio Grande do Sul — around 50% come from São Paulo — and are between 23 and 35 years old. “This shows that the population that visits Vale dos Vinhedos is very young, which gives us a very good idea that they will remain loyal visitors”, says Villas-Bôas.