The Vale do São Francisco is a thriving region, key for the grape production in Brazil. In 2019, the Vale do São Francisco was one of the regions with the highest grape production, only surpassed by the southern regions of Brazil. From the total production of this region 50% of the cultivated grapes are destined for wine production.
The Vale do São Francisco wine region covers more than 160 km. It is delimited to the east by the city of Remasco, while to the west, it borders the municipality of Petrolina.
The climate in the region is hot and markedly dry with moderating influences due to the proximity to the São Francisco River. On average, it only gets 60 mm of rain per year. Due to the low amount of rainfall, producers rely on the irrigation of the São Francisco River.
The region’s soil has a large amount of sediments due to deposits from the São Francisco River.
Because Brazil is still a relatively new wine-producing region, it currently has no specific national or regional programs to promote wine sustainability. However, the Vale de Sao Francisco is able to obtain organic certification for its wines, thanks to Decree 6323. This decree, intended for all agricultural activities in Brazil, aims to have a strong impact on the country's winemaking.
The most interesting aspects of this decree, which can give added value to Brazilian viticulture by taking it down the path of sustainability, have some very interesting points that deserve to be highlighted:
Most Planted Red Grape Varieties: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
Most Planted White Grape Varieties: Moscatel
Due to the warm climate of this region, the two red wines you should try are Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah wines develop very intense aromas thanks to the large amount of sunlight they receive in this tropical region, while in the flavor profile black fruits stand out especially. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon wines vary according to the season in which the grapes were produced, since in the first half of the year the wines have a lower alcohol content, are fresher and fruitier, while in the second half the wines have a greater structure, more intensity in color and also more alcohol content.
But without a doubt, the most popular wines of the region are sparkling wines. These are produced with the white Moscatel grape variety, and are characterized mainly by their floral aromas and fruity profile in the mouth, reminiscent of fruits such as tangerine, mango and lychee. Finally, one of the most appreciated aspects of this type of wine is that they are very easy to drink.
Although the São Francisco Valley is currently one of Brazil's winegrowing poles, it began to develop several years later than other regions. For example, in the regions located in the south of Brazil, viticulture had a great impact in the 19th century, when vineyards had not yet been cultivated in the São Francisco Valley.
The history of this region dates back to the 1960s, and key to its development was the arrival of immigrants to Brazil, who brought with them new technical knowledge. Thus, the first vineyards flourished in the São Francisco Valley.
However, the arrival of foreign immigrants to the country brought technical knowledge and the notion of market, which made other Brazilian regions also show their productive capacity.
By 1963 and 1964, the first experimental stations were installed in the region, where the Bebedouro Pilot Project and the Mandacaru Irrigated Perimeter took place. Both were key for the region to reach the great position it has today in terms of wine grape production. Finally, on November 1st 2022 the region was registered as a Geographical Indication, becoming the first tropical region with this status.