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Chapter 11 Argentina: New World Producer... > Redefining the Industry - Pg. 248

248 · The Great Divergence peculiar to the region. The French geographer Pierre Denis noted that the dry- ness of the atmosphere caused ripe grapes to remain longer on the vine without any harm, and a longer harvest reduced the number of migrant workers required and allowed growers to cultivate a larger area. 24 Indeed, the huge size of some of the wineries can only be explained by the possibility of stretching the harvest over three or four months. 25 Grapes that remained on the vine for this length of time, rather than for a month or six weeks, lost moisture and weight but gained in sugar content. This encouraged growers to overirrigate and benefited the win- ery owners, who bought the grapes by weight and added water to the must to reduce the alcoholic strength from 16 to 12 degrees. 26 It did little to improve wine quality. Arata's report criticized the unscientific nature of wine making that often took place in unhygienic conditions. The addition of tartaric acid to the must was limited by its cost, and despite abundant supplies of cold water very few wineries had invested in cooling equipment. 27 Yet the government enquiry of 1903 also noted that large amounts of capital invested in winery equipment had been wasted because producers "forgot" the basics of production and conservation of sound wines. 28 Most contemporaries were unanimous in their condemnation of the poor quality of the vast majority of wines at the turn of the twentieth cen- tury, but they were also divided as to whether this was caused by the lack of wine-