Ranked as the fifth top wine producing country in the world, it’s no wonder that the Malbec grape has become synonymous with Argentina. Relaxing in a trendy Buenos Aires bar with a glass of locally produced wine and a steak from the parrilla has become the stuff of perfect Argentina holidays, but many visitors to this country are being drawn to visiting the wine producing regions themselves.
A growing network of accessible wineries and wine routes mean that tourism is flourishing, and the ease in which tourists can visit vineyards has grown substantially over the last few decades. For wine lovers looking to plan a trip to one of Argentina’s most delicious wine regions, the information below should inspire your holiday – cheers!
Mendoza – the king of the vineyards
Producing 60% of all Argentine wine – and an even greater proportion of country exports, Mendoza is the undisputed rey (king) of the Argentine wine world. It has award-winning Malbecs up its sleeve and the topography on which the vineyards grow ranges from 2,300 ft. (700m) in eastern Maipú, to 3,600 ft. (1,100m) above sea level in the Uco Valley. This is the destination for sampling Argentina’s wine.
And the wines certainly don’t disappoint, particularly thanks to the features of the unique environment in which they grow. The semi-arid climate which is both warm in summer and cold in winter, and the cool air that comes from the nearby Andes, helps to slow the ripening process and ensure that acidity is developed. These features of the Mendoza terroir help to develop ripe and fruity wines.
Wine tasting in Mendoza
The city of Mendoza makes a good hub from which to explore the following local wine regions, either through an organized tour or by renting transport for the day.
Nine miles (14km) southeast of Mendoza and with around 20 wineries, Maipú has a number of standout wineries. The most recommended are:
Bodegas López: a winery founded in 1898 and still run by the fourth generation of the same family.
Familia Zuccardi: founded in 1960, it is now one of the most successful Argentine wineries both nationally and abroad.
Luján de Cuyo
13 miles (20km) south of the city, this region is mostly famous for its Malbecs and the high altitude of its vineyards which are located at up to 3,620 ft. (1,100m) above sea level. Wineries of note include:
Ruca Malen: this winery offers a five-course lunch menu with wine pairings and was awarded “Best of Wine Tourism” global winner in 2014.
Terrazas de los Andes: this winery is characterized by growing its grapes at a range of different elevations to meet the particular needs of each variety.
Valle de Uco
One of the highest wine valleys in the world, it’s also Mendoza’s newest wine region. Over 80,000 hectares are planted at between 3,000 (910m) and 3,900 ft. (1,190m) and some of the most interesting wineries in the area include:
Catena Zapata: a vineyard where the first grapes were planted in 1902 by the recently emigrated Italian founder of the winery, Nicolás Catena Zapata.
Bodega Salentein: this architecturally alluring winery has a wine cellar containing 5,000 barrels and which also holds concerts to make the most of the excellent acoustics.
Advice for visiting Mendoza as part of your Argentina holidays
Numerous companies offer organized tours of the Mendoza region and incorporate visits to various different wineries. If you choose to tour the vineyards under your own steam, making a reservation with the winery or restaurant at least a day in advance is advisable.
Selecting a region to visit each day is recommended as the distances between them make it otherwise difficult. Wineries are often closed on Saturdays and Sundays and hiring a driver to take you to the different locations offers a more relaxing and enjoyable tasting.
Mendoza can be visited year-round, although between March and May, when the wine harvest is coming to an end and the scorching summer heat is lowering, is often considered the most favorable time for organizing your Argentina holidays to this region.