San Rafael, city of over 170,000 inhabitants (2001) located 125 miles south of Mendoza in Argentina. The settlement emerged at the northern margin of the Diamante River as a trading place for cattle drivers taking their herds across the Andes to Chile. A fort was built in 1770 to keep Indians at bay, and in 1777 punitive actions against the raiders were taken from this stronghold. In 1805 commander Teles Meneses founded the fort of San Rafael, as well as a permanent settlement, to establish a Spanish presence in the region. As a well-irrigated oasis, San Rafael attracted French and Italian families who from 1870 to 1890 began to cultivate grapes in well-irrigated vineyards. San Rafael produces one of the finest white wines of Argentina. Situated in the agrarian province of Mendoza, it is the last major city on the border of the desert south of the Atuel River.
See alsoArgentina, Geography .
Izuel, María Elena. Compendio de historia de San Rafael y del sur Mendocino. Mendoza, Argentina: Editorial Ciencias y Artes, 1995.
CÉsar N. Caviedes