In the heart of the Argentina, at the foot of the Andes Mountains is a bustling city that still maintains the charm of small town life. As Argentina ́s most predominate wine region, Mendoza contains more than 120 wineries open to tourism, isresponsible for producing nearly 80% of the country ́s grapes, is an International Wine Capital and a favorite among traveler ́s looking to swirl delicious wines and immerse themselves in a new culture. Argentine culture incorporates wine at every turn, whether it’s accompanying a smoky barbeque over open coals, gaucho lore, a folklore dance, or an afternoon siesta. The region is alive with rich tradition, exciting business opportunities, friendly locals, and all kinds of adventures.
The Wine Regions
Mendoza province can be broken down into three “hotspot” wine regions that travelers come to explore: Luján de Cuyo, Maipu, and Uco Valley. Each region comes with a slightly different history and a unique terroir that pulses through the wine. A short drive south of Mendoza city sits what is fondly known as “The Land of Malbec,” or the Luján de Cuyo wine region. It is host to someof the most celebrated Argentine wineries, including Catena Zapata and Pulenta Estate. The region averages at approximately 3300 ft. above sea level, and its intense sunny days and cool nights make for delicious expressions of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and other varieties.South-east of Mendoza city, is a historic wine region known as Maipu, with vineyardsaveraging at 2600 ft. above sea level. Though the region doesn ́t quite have the international reputation of Uco Valley, it is home to renowned wineries including Familia Zuccardi, Trapiche, and Rutini.Uco Valley is the most prestigious and high altitude wine region in Mendoza. An hour and ahalf southwest of Mendoza City, Uco Valley containsvineyards that sit at upwards of 5,580 feet. Itis home to impressive wineries with stunning architecture and celebrated wines. Some favorite stops include La Azul, The Vines of Mendoza, and Salentein.
Wine Tour Recommendations
Because Mendoza is a relatively young wine region, meaning that well-marked streets and reliable maps are frustratingly hard to come by, most visitors opt to travel with private guides & drivers that shuttle them from one winery to the next. Uncorking Argentina is the region ́s premier tour agency, specialized in the customized construction of private tours. Their team has more than a decade ́s worth of experience in the region, and the ability to give tours a taste of Mendoza ́s authentic culture and visits to the off-the-beaten-track wineries that really should not be missed. Given the limits of time and space, most visitors opt to spend a day in each of the three regions and swirl their way through three or four wineries before tucking in for the night. Each wine region offers a sampling of different wines and winery styles – from family-owned operations that are just beginning to export, to industrial-sized winery projects backed by phenomenal funds and foreign investment. Here are some of the unique wineries that we recommend you visit on your next trip:
Kaiken, Luján de Cuyo
Owned by a prestigious Chilean winemaker, Aurelio Montes, this biodynamic winery is anentertaining tour through biodynamic winemaking practices and delicious wines.
Domaine St. Diego, Maipu
This family-owned winery is run by a father and daughter duo who focus on the unique terroir and soil that brings their wine to life. Tour through the terraced vineyards, olive orchard, and old vines as you learn from one of Mendoza ́s most beloved characters in the wine industry.
O ́Fournier Winery, Uco Valley
A long trek from Mendoza City, most travelers miss out on this architectural masterpiece and renowned winery. Nestled against the foothills of the Andes, the winery is visually stunning from the moment you step out of the car. It also is home to the Urban Restaurant and offers gourmet meals and a particularly stunning mountain vista.
Best places to wine & dine
As Mendoza ́s reputation for impeccable wines steady gains momentum, the local culinary scene follows suit. Local chefs have crafted menus that fuse traditional argentine flavors with high quality and innovation that satisfies international standards. Winery restaurants across the regions offer wine travelers a place to rest in between winery visits, as they enjoy anything from a picnic lunch, to a 9-course wine-paired menu. In the downtown area, the range of restaurants spans the culinary gamut and satisfies diners at every price range. Young people populate Aristides Street, an 8-block main drag packed full of stylish restaurants, bars, and dance clubs. While on the other side of town, cozy Italian bistros, argentine barbeques, and French restaurant s satisfy everyone else. Or, for something quick and tasty, empanada shops and pizzerias populate practically every block.
Where to rest your head
Boutique inns and luxury hotels in downtown are impossible to beat in terms of convenience, but there’s something to be said for sleeping among the vines at classic country homes located in the heart of the wine regions themselves. The ranquility, rustic elegance, scenic views and sense of tradition gives guests an unforgettable sense of life at the foot of the Andes.
Though the region certainly earned its fame with the rise of the mighty Malbec grape, it’s important to remember that Mendoza is more than just Argentina’s wine country. It is also a destination for outdoors-lovers, adrenaline seekers, and climbers hoping to summit the Aconcagua peak. Located at the base of the Andes Mountains,Mendoza offers bike riding through the vineyards, white water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, zip lining, paragliding and all manner of open-air fun! The region is praised for its nearly 300 days of sunshine every year and city parks, plazas,and green spaces offer natural gathering spaces where locals and tourists can enjoy the warm climate and beautiful landscape.
Madeline is the Communications Director of Uncorking Argentina, a travel agency specializing in custom-built private tours in Mendoza ́s wine country.