Discover more from Buenos Aires Portal
Mendoza, Argentina: The Ultimate Guide 🍷
Discover the hidden gems of Argentina's wine paradise.
The Mendoza province sits in the western-central region of Argentina, just over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) west of Buenos Aires. The province shares a border with the provinces of San Juan, San Luis, La Pampa, and Neuquén. Its capital is also Mendoza, a city famed around the world for its vineyards and wine production. The western edge of the province shares a natural border with the Andes Mountains; Santiago de Chile (Chile’s capital city) is about 235 miles (380 kilometers) further west.
Spanish conquistador Pedro del Castillo established Mendoza in 1561 and for a little over 200 years it belonged to the General Captaincy of Chile, which was a colony of the Spanish Empire. Following the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, Mendoza became part of an area known as Cuyo de Córdoba del Tucumán. This region then separated to form the Cuyo Province, in 1813. General José San Martín was Cuyo’s first governor and from Mendoza, in 1817, he led an army across the Andes in a successful bid to liberate Chile from Spanish rule. By 1820, the Cuyo Province had divided to form the individual provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, and San Luis. Today, these provinces, along with La Rioja, are still commonly referred to as the Cuyo region. Prior to European settlement, the Mapuche and Puelche indigenous groups inhabited this region. In fact, the province’s earliest human traces date back over 10,000 years.
Tip: On your first visit to Mendoza, don’t stay in the city. We recommend staying in Valle de Uco, about an hour and a half drive south of the city.
The low-lying plains and continental climate make the province of Mendoza an idyllic wine-producing region. In fact, it produces over two-thirds of Argentina’s wine. Visit the city of Mendoza to take tours of the nearby bodegas and sample Malbec, Merlot, and other grapes. About an hour’s drive south of the city, Valle de Uco is arguably the best area to stay for wine tourism, and where you’ll find the bodega-loaded Provincial Route 89, aka ”The Wine Road.”. Find more bodegas in the towns of Maipu and Chacras de Coria, the latter being great for countryside bike rides and cooking classes. For the active traveler, there’s the opportunity to trek to the summit of Aconcagua, which is the highest mountain peak in the Americas, and go white-water rafting. You can even go skiing at Las Leñas ski resort, one of the largest Andean resorts in Argentina.
Buenos Aires Portal is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The Mendoza region is pleasant to visit all year round. The summer months, from mid-December to late February, are both the high season and hot season. Expect temperatures of over 90°F (32°C) during the daytime and mild nights of 59-64°F (15-18°C). Don’t be surprised if the days hit 104°F (40°C), either. The end of summer is harvest time when the grapes reach full ripeness. Late spring (October to mid-December) and autumn (April to June) offer cooler temperatures and generally fewer tourists. Autumn is particularly agreeable as, with the change of the season, the countryside becomes a blanket of orange and red. Winter temperatures range from 35-57°F (2-14°C). While mornings can be cold, clear skies and sunshine make afternoons enjoyable. The ski season runs from mid-June to October.
Valle de Uco
According to experts, Valle de Uco is the finest wine region in Mendoza. It is also the area we would recommend to stay in on your first visit to Mendoza. Situated on the Tunuyán River around 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Mendoza, it’s home to over 100 wineries, many of which have been set up by international investors. The average annual temperature of 57°F (14°C), more than 250 days of sunshine per year, and altitudes that vary between 2,625 and 3,936 feet (800 and 1,200 meters) are what give this valley its revered grape-growing qualities.
Consequently, this region of Mendoza features significantly on the Mendoza wine route. The traditional grapes grown here are Malbec and Semillón, with the latter being used to produce sweet white wines. Other grapes include Bonarda and Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay, all of which can be sampled at the region’s bodegas, many spread out along “The Wine Road”. This, coupled with a backdrop of the snow-capped Andes and Tupungato volcano, makes it a sought-after destination.
Notable bodegas among seemingly hundreds here include:
Bodega la Azul (Ruta 89, Agua Amarga), Bodega Salentein (cnr Ruta 89 and Videla, Los Árboles), Clos de los Siete (Clodomiro Silva Vista Flores), and Bodega Alfa Crux (Calle Los Indios, Eugenio Bustos). You’ll find more information about them in the Top Wineries section below.
La Posada del Jamón (Ruta 92, Km 14) is a must for ham lovers. The restaurant specializes in pork and plenty of it. You can take a tour of the storage room and learn how to make cured ham. There’s even a little handicrafts shop to entice you to spend your pesos. Be sure to stop by Tupungato Divino (cnr Ruta 89 and Calle Los Europeos), a restaurant affording panoramic views of the Andes mountains. The chef uses vegetables hand-picked from the restaurant’s garden.
Killka (cnr Ruta 89 and Videla, Los Arboles) is a modern restaurant at Bodega Salentein serving locally-grown produce. After dinner, you can wander around the winery and see art exhibitions at the onsite gallery. Another winery with a superb gastronomical offering is Andeluna Cellars (RP89 Km 11, Tupungato). The mountain views from the garden, itself perfect for a post-dinner drink, are some of the best in the region. While you are in Tupungato, Riguetto Café (Belgrano 542, Tupungato) is a pleasant stop, as is Del Río Wine Bar (Ruta 92) in Tunuyán.
Ruda Cocina (La Costa, Gualtallary, Tupungato) takes sharing plates to a new level of culinary art – think tempting dishes like pickled rabbit, chipa stuffed with pork shoulder, and sweetbread with mashed peas. Nearby La Matera de Cabalgatas del Alma (Calle La Costa, Tupungato Winelands Polo Club) combines horseback rides into the mountains with rustic, open-pit asados (barbecues). If you’re still craving stunning outdoor locations and a fun, friendly vibe, don’t miss the restaurant at Bodega Azul.
Where to Stay
If you want to escape into the country for a few days then Valle de Uco is the place to do so. There are dozens of lodges, many of which are associated with the valley’s wineries.
Not only a top restaurant, La Posada del Jamón (Ruta 92, Km 14) is a great place to stay and offers rustic lodge-style rooms. The owners give tours of the vineyard and organic garden, and there’s plenty of entertainment for kids. Fuente Mayor Hotel and Resort (Ruta 92, Km 15, Vista Flores) sits in the foothills of the Andes mountains and presents unrivaled views. You can rejuvenate in the spa or have a flutter in the casino. Serenity awaits at Alpasión Lodge (Los Arboles de Villegas). It has a choice of seven luxury rooms with private terraces and six glamping tents, of which three have outdoor hot tubs.
Posada Salentein (cnr Ruta 89 and Videla, Los Arboles) is at the bodega of the same name and is an exclusive estancia with 16 luxury rooms, all with views of the vineyard. The Bodega is a complex that includes the posada, the Killka restaurant, an art gallery, a swimming pool, and a chapel. Alternatively, check out Postales Boutique Hotel (Calle Taberna, Colonia de las Rosas), which is in the heart of the valley and a 10-minute drive from Tunuyán. The rooms sit around a swimming pool that looks out towards the mountains; the perfect setting for breakfast or a bottle of wine.
Casa de Huéspedes Finca La Azul is the accommodation at the family-run Finca La Azul bodega. It has an outdoor pool, asado area, and candlelit dinners among the vineyards. Minimalistic Casa de Uco (Ruta 94 Km. 14.5) oozes a sophisticated atmosphere amid 320 hectares of picturesque surroundings. Cooking and cocktail classes, gourmet picnics, horseback rides, and hands-on harvest experiences are part of the fun.
Take the luxuriousness up a notch with a stay at 5-star The Vines Resort & Spa (Ruta Provincial 94, km 11, Tunuyán. Deluxe villas overlook a lake or garden and include features like firepits, lounge chairs, hot tubs, and terraces. Equally upmarket, Gaia Lodge (Ruta 89 km 7, Tupungato) has five double and two quadruple rooms. Homemade breakfasts are created using products from the onsite, organic gardens.
Mendoza is a low-lying city spread across the valley of the Río Mendoza River and in the foothills of the Andean mountain range. It takes its name from Garciá Hurtado de Mendoza, who was a Spanish soldier and the former Governor of Chile. Mendoza is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing destination in Argentina, which is the result of a complete redevelopment after an earthquake flattened the city in 1861. The large squares and wide avenues of the city center were specifically designed to provide easy escape routes should the city get hit by another serious earthquake.
Situated in a desert area and receiving fewer than 10 days of rain per year, Mendoza is surprisingly green. Lining the streets are rows of trees that provide essential shelter during the hot summer days. The notable greenery is a consequence of an artificial irrigation system, which waters the trees and also creates a natural cooling system. Irrigation in the region dates back to the pre-Hispanic era, and the early Spanish settlers saw an opportunity to plant vineyards throughout the region. Wine has been sold from Mendoza since the early 18th century and today the city is synonymous with wine production and wine tourism in the form of bodega tours and tastings.
Today, Mendoza is one of the most popular year-round tourist destinations in Argentina, and from here you can travel to just about anywhere in the country. The Terminal del Sol (cnr Av. Videla and Acceso Este) is the central bus station, situated about 10 blocks from the city center. It’s on the corner of a busy freeway so your best bet is to get a taxi rather than walk. Among other destinations, buses connect with Bariloche (18 hours), Buenos Aires (15 hours), Córdoba (11 hours), Neuquén (12 hours) and Tucumán (15 hours). There’re also international bus services to Montevideo (21 hours), Santiago de Chile (8 hours) and Lima (60 hours). In the winter months, services to Chile are dependent on the weather conditions. Check Plataforma10 for further destinations and timetables.
Alternatively, Mendoza has an international airport – Francisco Gabrielli International Airport – that receives regular flights from Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile, as well as Córdoba, Iguazú Falls, Rosario and Salta. The airport is about 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) north of the city center. See Aerolíneas Argentinas and LATAM in addition to budget options FlyBondi and JetSmart for ideas of prices.
What to See and Do
Mendoza is an interesting and relaxing city to explore. The main sights sit scattered around five central squares, whose positioning resembles the number five on a die. The centerpiece square is Plaza Independencia, with Plaza Chile, Plaza San Martín, Plaza Italia, and Plaza España sitting two blocks from each of its four corners.
Each of the squares has its own unique appeal. In the heart of Plaza Independencia is a large fountain, Fuente de la Bandera, several pergolas and plenty of grassy areas to sit and relax. The square hosts a daily handicrafts market – Feria de Artesanos – with up to 150 different vendors. It starts at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. On the square’s surrounding streets are two of Mendoza’s best theaters, Teatro Independencia (Chile 1184) and Teatro Municipal Julio Quintanilla. The latter is in the square’s basement and accessed from Espejo Street. Also in the basement is the small Museum of Modern Art, which hosts rotating art exhibitions and free concerts.
Go to Plaza San Martín to see the Basílica de San Francisco (Av. España 1418), which dates to 1875. Look for the image of the Virgin of Cuyo. The Virgin was the patron saint of San Martín’s army that crossed the Andes in 1817. There’s also a tomb that holds the remains of San Martín’s daughter and her family. Of the other squares, Plaza España is the most attractive. Check out the mosaic-tiled fountains and benches, as well as a mural that portrays scenes from Mendoza’s history.
History enthusiasts should head to the Museo Fundacional (cnr Videla Castillo and Beltrán), on the corner of Plaza del Castillo. It protects the ruins of Mendoza’s former cabildo (administrative office), destroyed by the earthquake of 1861. You’ll also find a chronological display of Mendoza, from the pre-Hispanic era to independence. Nearby, on Ituzaingó Street are the ruins of a Jesuit church and school. You can walk here in under 30 minutes from Plaza Independencia.
Don’t miss Parque San Martín (Main entrance: cnr Av. Emilio Civit and Av. Boulogne Sur Mer), which is a 30-minute walk west from Plaza Independencia. Carlos Thays, the revered French-Argentine landscaper, designed the park in the 1890s. Today, it’s a great place to stroll along the 11 miles (17 kilometers) of pathways and relax on sheltered lawns. Check out the Rose Garden on the north side of the park’s lake. It has around 500 species of roses. Soccer fans might like to visit Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, built especially for the 1978 World Cup. If you are feeling energetic, hike to Cerro de la Gloria. The summit is 3,149 feet (960 meters) above sea level and presents panoramic views of the city.
Nightlife and Restaurants
Running east and west from Plaza Independencia is Avenida Sarmiento, a pedestrianized street lined with café and restaurants, many of which have sidewalk seating areas. Try Azafran (Sarmiento 765), a mid-range priced restaurant with an elegant and authentic ambiance. A sommelier is on hand to help you select the best wine to go with your meal. Nearby, Ceibo (25 de Mayo 871) specializes in Argentine fare, and its empanadas cooked in a clay oven are certainly worth visiting for. You’ll find the restaurant on the edge of Plaza Italia. About a 10-minute drive from the center is Abrasado, the in-house restaurant at Bodega Los Toneles (Av. de Acceso Este 1360). It specializes in dry-aged beef and tasting menus with wine pairings from the bodega.
Go to the NH Hotel to find Cordillera (Av. España 1324), which does everything from breakfast buffets to afternoon tea and executive lunches (set menu). The menu consists of Mediterranean takes on local and international dishes. If a typical Argentina meat feast is the order of the day, try El Patio de Jesus Maria (Av. Boulogne Sur Mer 788) at the edge of Parque San Martin. Or pick from the eclectic menu at El Faro Bistro (Av. España 948 floor 14) while enjoying views from its rooftop location.
For budget dinners and set menus, take a walk along Avenida Las Heras and Avenida San Martín. The Mercado Central (cnr Av. Las Heras and Patricias Mendocinas) should not be missed. Not only is it where locals shop for fresh produce but it’s also a superb place to grab a pizza or sandwich, some empanadas, or even a steak.
Mendocinos, like many Argentines, are crazy about ice cream and all over the city you’ll find heledarías (ice cream parlors). Ferruccio Soppelsa (various city locations) is particularly good and a firm local favorite. Italian immigrants started the business in 1927 and continue to impress with a multitude of flavors, such as tiramisu, mascarpone with forest fruits, and even vanilla with Malbec.
Mendoza’s principal drinking and party scene takes place along Avenida Villanueva Aristides. The street runs from the east side of Parque San Martín to one block south of Plaza Italia. There are abundant bars to choose from so your best bet is to stroll around until you see an establishment to your liking. Worth checking out is Bar Latina (Av. Villanueva Aristides 245), which has great cocktail-happy-hour and puts on regular live music. Just where Avenida Villanueva Aristides becomes Avenida Colon, The Garnish Bar (Av. Colon 670) is a city go-to for sophisticated cocktails.
Like much of Argentina, Mendoza has jumped head first into the craft beer scene and there is no end of options to slurp on the amber nectar. Sip your favorite brews while hopping between busy spots on Avenida Villanueva Aristides like Antares, Cachingo Craft Beer, and Peñon del Águila You’re almost guaranteed a lively night plus the chance to meet backpackers at Believe Irish Bar (Av. Colón 241). Whisky drinkers will appreciate the bar’s selection of single malts. The bar is one block south of Plaza España.
Go to Vines of Mendoza (Av. Belgrano 1194) for wine tastings. One-hour tasting sessions take place from Tuesday to Saturday and include five different wines. It’s popular so book in advance. Find more information on tasting sessions on the English-language Wine Republic website.
Where to Stay
Bear in mind that accommodation prices increase from January to March, especially in March when the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (wine festival: see below for more details) takes place.
When staying downtown, try Bed and Breakfast Plaza Italia (Montevideo 685). It’s family-run and offers hotel comforts in a laid-back environment. Casa Lila (Nicolas Avellaneda 262) is another family-run bed and breakfast, with only four en-suite bedrooms. Both places are happy to help with wine tours and tastings.
For a treat, check in at the Villaggio Hotel Boutique (25 de Mayo 1010). It’s a centric hotel with modern and comfortable rooms. Rates include a hearty breakfast, and the spa is perfect after a day of sightseeing. And, for no-holds-barred luxury, go all out and book a room at the Park Hyatt (Chile 1124). Set in a 19th-century colonial building, rooms have views of the city and surrounding valley.
Chacras de Coria
Getting away from Mendoza’s city center is the best way to fully experience the region’s natural beauty, tranquility, and viniculture. Consider staying at Chacras de Coria, a town just 8.5 miles (14 kilometers) south of Plaza Independencia – various buses between the town and Mendoza’s main bus terminal. There’s a handful of tourist attractions here, a noteworthy assortment of restaurants, and some cozy guesthouses. It’s also a good base for taking trips to the wineries of Valle de Uco.
The focal point of town is Plaza General Espejo, which hosts an antiques fair on Sunday afternoons. Art enthusiasts will enjoy the exhibitions of local and international work at the Museo de Bellas Artes – Casa de Fader (San Martín 3651). It’s named after French-Argentine painter Fernando Fader.
All of the following are worth checking out: Clos de Chacras (Monte Libano 1025), a winery and family-friendly restaurant; El Mercadito Friendly and Fresh (Viamonte 4961), which has plates inspired by flavors from Argentina to Asia, and a relaxed al-fresco dining area; and Yoko Sushi Nikkei (Mitre 1574), a stylish sushi joint for eat-in and takeout. Just south of the town in Luján de Cuyo is Zonda Cocina de Paisaje (San Martin 1745). As part of Bodega Lagarde, guests are invited to walk through the garden to observe some of the ingredients used in preparing the multi-course tasting menu.
Where to Stay
Accommodation prices are more expensive here than in Mendoza city itself but if you can afford a little extra then there are some lovely places to stay. Almost all are set within large grounds and some offer views of the Andean mountain range.
For a swanky wine and accommodation combo, it’s hard to beat SB Winemakers House & Spa Suites (Viamonte 5022). Part of the Susana Balbo winery, it offers suites with private gardens alongside exquisite food, wine, and spa experiences. The spa suite with a sauna is the embodiment of indulgence. Head back to Luján de Cuyo and Entre Cielos Luxury Wine Hotel & Spa (Guardia Vieja 1998). Set on a vineyard, this 5-star resort has views of the Andes and Argentina’s first authentic hammam spa. Each of its 24 rooms have terraces that open out onto the vineyards.
Alternatively, try Posada Borravino (Medrano 2658) and Posada Olivar (Besares 5500), both of which have a restaurant, swimming pool, and bike rental. Casa Glebinias (Medrano 5505) is a little oasis surrounded by almost 2 acres (1 hectare) of parkland and fruit orchards. Accommodation is in the form of mini-apartments, each with a private patio or balcony. And Lares de Chacras (Larrea 1266) is a boutique lodge with rustic furnishing; could be the spot if you’re looking for a few romantic days away.
About 8.5 miles (14 kilometers) southwest of Mendoza’s center is the small city of Maipú. It’s the capital of a district characterized by sprawling olive fields and fruit orchards, including innumerable vineyards. Rather than running around in a desperate attempt to visit sights, people come to Maipú to soak up the laidback lifestyle that resonates from its leafy streets. They also come to eat and drink well. The city is in the heart of an important wine-growing region, and thus has some excellent bodegas (see the wineries section), especially along Calle Urquiza.
Regional buses run regularly from Mendoza city to the center of Maipú. Catch the 151 or 161 bus from either Mendoza’s bus terminal or at the corner of La Rioja and Catamarca streets. Ask to be dropped off at Plaza 12 de Febrero. This is Maipú’s main square and a pretty one at that. At its heart is a fountain that lights up at night to illuminate the square. On the west side is a picturesque white-washed church, Iglesia la Merced.
Take advantage of Maipú’s flat terrain by renting a bike with Maipú Bikes and explore the surrounding countryside along with some bodegas. Horseback rides are also an enjoyable way to see the region’s countryside. Cabalgatas la Guatana (Maza Sur 8001, Lunlunta) arranges tours of vineyards on horseback, including tastings and a picnic.
Many of the bodegas have their own restaurants. Worth checking out is Casa del Visitante (Ruta Provincial 33, Km 7.5) at Bodega Santa Julia, of the Familia Zuccardi bodega. In addition to a delicious tasting menu and expert wine pairings, the restaurant hosts art exhibitions and live music events. At the bodega, you can also arrange garden wine picnics and take part in cooking classes for both adults and children.
Other notable establishments include Pie de Cuba (Urquiza 800), which offers celiac (gluten-free) options. Rincón de López (Ozamis 375) is a centric restaurant that serves well-priced tasting menus with wine pairings. It is part of the Bodegas López and the seating area overlooks the vineyard.
Where to Stay
Posada Verde Oliva (Monte Caseros 5513) and Posada Cavieres Wine Farm (Espejo Este 3705) are both well-appointed bed and breakfasts. Club Tapiz (Ruta 60m Km 2.5) occupies a historic late 1800s house surrounded by 25 acres (10 hectares) of vineyards. For affordable luxury, book a room at Tikay Killa (Monte Caseros 3542). Rooms are set around a quiet garden and rates include breakfast.
Top Mendoza Wineries
Bodegas Around Valle de Uco
Michelini i Mufatto Cantina (G Marconi, Tupungato). The mother-father-son team behind Michelini i Mufatto manages three wineries located in Argentina, Uruguay, and Spain. The Mendoza branch strives to reinterpret the classic wines of Mendoza. All fermentation takes place within old French oak barrels and 2,000-liter concrete amphoras.
SuperUco (RP94, Los Chacayes). Four brothers and a friend lived out their dream of combining the art of winemaking with a lifelong passion in their native homeland. Production is spread across three locations around the valley, each set at varying altitudes. Bodegas SuperUco (the main site) features two hectares of biodynamic vineyards planted in a circular form around an octagonal building. Experiences range from simple wine flights to 3 and 6-course tasting menus.
Bodega Alfa Crux (Calle Los Indios, Eugenio Bustos). Named after the brightest star in the galaxy, Alfa Crux was designed in perfect harmony with the land and environment. Crux Cocina, the on-site restaurant, is where tastings take place and gourmet lunches are served. Diners get to experience magnificent views of the Andes through the floor-to-ceiling windows and reflected in water pools.
Clos de los Siete (Clodomiro Silva, Vista Flores). The creation of French master winemaker Michel Rolland, Clos de los Siete is a collection of four bodegas run by four families from Bordeaux, France. Collectively, they occupy 850 hectares at the foot of the Andes. The group specializes in high-end wines and all four wineries offer a range of tastings and lunch options. Check the individual websites of each for options: Bodega Rolland, Cuvelier Los Andes, Diamandes, and Monteviejo.
Huentala Wines (Camino Estancia Silva A, Gualtallary, Tupungato). At the foot of Tupungato volcano, Huentala Wines cultivates sustainable wines around 230 hectares of vineyards. Not just a traditional winery, it offers complete immersion in Argentine food and drink culture. Cooking classes, picnics, tasting menus, afternoon tea, and weddings are all part of the offering. For the ultimate wine vacation, it’s possible to stay overnight in well-appointed rooms and suites.
Bodegas around Luján de Cuyo
Bodega RJ Viñedos (Perdriel, Terrada 2400, Luján de Cuyo). Founded in 1998 by the grandson of a French grape grower, this family-operated winery cultivates 120 hectares split between Mendoza and Salta. Its mission is to produce wines that are an authentic and profound expression of their terroir. Tours of the bodega include tastings led by founder Raul Joffre. You’ll get to try wines from varying altitudes in addition to exquisite wine and chocolate pairings.
Bodega Dolium (Ruta 15, Km 30, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo). This is a small family-run bodega. They store the wine in amphoras, which are the bottles used by Greeks and Romans in classic wine production. Opened in 1997, it was the first Argentine bodega to use underground wine-storing techniques. The owners run the tours, thus adding both a personal and family touch to your visit. You can also personalize your tour to include tastings of your preferred wines. There’s an option to have lunch with the owners, which includes a tasting of six wines.
Luigi Bosca (San Martín 2044, Mayor Drummond, Luján de Cuyo). Established in 1901, this bodega is managed by the third and fourth generations of the Arizu family. Tours take visitors through all the stages of wine-making, from the cultivation of the grapes to grape crushing and barreling. After a tasting session, you can visit the bodega’s art gallery to enjoy the ‘Wine Way of the Cross’ by local artist Hugo Leytes. It portrays the history of Mendoza’s wine industry. Luigi Bosca presides over seven wine farms situated in the Mendoza province. One of its biggest sellers is the Finca la Linda brand, which is readily available in shops throughout Argentina.
Altos Las Hormigas (RP61 cnr Groezinger, Luján de Cuyo). Two Tuscan winemakers established Altos Las Hormigas in 1995 with a mission to enhance the worldwide knowledge of Malbec. The estate boasts over 200 hectares, with 40 of them dedicated to Malbec, on which it produces its terroir-driven wines. Unlike most bodegas, this one isn’t open to visitors; however, its wines are available in most vinotecas (wine stores).
Bodegas around Maipú
Bodega la Rural (Montecaseros 2625, Coquimbito, nr Maipú). Italian Philip Rutini opened this bodega in 1885, making it one of the oldest in Argentina. It produces the prestigious Rutini wines. The bodega has a capacity to store up to 10 million liters of wine, and it exports over 1 million cases of wine per year. The 45-minute tours include a visit to the vineyard and bodega, wine tasting, and a tour of the Museo del Vino (Wine Museum). The museum is home to 4,500 items relating to wine-making, such as tools and machinery, vintage bottles, and books. During the summer months, you can enjoy a gourmet wine and food pairing meal.
Casa Vigil Bodega (Videla Aranda 7008, Maipú). Inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Casa Vigil is the creation of Alejandro Vigil, the chief enologo at the renowned Bodega Catena Zapata. A choice of 3, 7, and 9-course lunch and dinner menus are accompanied by various styles of Enemigo wines. All plates are inspired by seasonal, homegrown products to provide a sensory experience in both sight and taste.
Finca Flichman (Munives 800, Barrancas, Maipú). In 1873, Polish immigrant Sami Flinchman settled in Maipú and set up this winery, which opened in 1910. Tours take in parts of the bodega that date back to 1873, the bottling area, and then culminate with tastings of fine wines. There’s also an option for a vineyard picnic. The bodega has three other sites in Mendoza, which collectively produce 24,000 liters of wine per hour. The view of the Andes from the vineyard is spectacular.
Viñedos y Bodega La Agrícola (Ruta 33, Km 7.5, Fray Luis Beltran, Maipú). Alberto Zuccardi, an Argentine of Italian descent, opened this bodega in 1963. It’s famous for the production of the Santa Julia brand of wines, one of the most commonly seen in Argentina. It also produced Argentina’s first Ultra Premium wine made from the Tempranillo grape, Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 1997. Through the Casa del Visitantes, the bodega arranges a variety of tours, including a bike and tasting tour, tours in classic cars, and picnics. The restaurant puts on regular art exhibitions and live music events.
Bodegas López (Ozamis 375, General Gutiérrez, Maipú). This bodega is in the heart of Maipú and offers free guided tours that include a wine tasting; enjoy more tastings for an extra charge. Visit both the classic wine-making plant and a plant used for producing sparkling wine. There’s also a small museum with some interesting exhibits, such as old vehicles and equipment. To visit the bodega’s vineyards you’ll need to book 48 hours in advance. True wine enthusiasts can sign up for sommelier and tasting courses.
Finca La Cayetana - Ver Sacrum Wines (Manuel, Cruz Videla 2605, Maipú). The passion of three wine-loving friends, Ver Sacrum Wines is a boutique winery. It focuses on exotic grape varieties, such as Marsanne, Nebbiolo, and Roussanne. Taking place inside Finca La Cayetana, a restored home from 1865, visitors can enjoy a 6-course tasting menu each with an individual wine pairing.
Best of the Rest
Bodegas Valentin Bianchi (Ruta 143 and Calle Valentín Bianchi, Ciudad de San Rafael). This is one of the most visited vineyards in the Mendoza region. It’s popular for both the wines and unrivaled views of the Andes. Walking and bike tours traverse the vineyards and visit the production rooms before finishing with tastings. There’s a huge onsite shop to tempt you to take home a bottle or two of what you’ve just sampled. The bodega has even extended its offering to Boca Juniors and River Plate football club-branded wines.
Bodegas Navarro Correas (San Francisco del Monte, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza). This winery dates back to the start of the 19th century when Juan de Dios Correas planted his first grapevines in the foothills of the Andes. It’s a classy-looking bodega complete with a swanky wine bar and exhibition space with a 170-piece permanent collection and traveling expositions. Check the website for different tasting options, which include three to four varieties of wine.
As there are so many bodegas to choose from in the region, what many do is join a tour that visits between two and six bodegas in one day. You could also rent a car and go independently, but you won’t be able to consume as much wine if you are driving. Try companies like Ampora Wine Tours (Sarmiento 647, Mendoza), Trout and Wine Tours (Espejo 266, Mendoza), and Uncorking Argentina (Belgrano 1093, Mendoza). All arrange half and full-day tours with bi-lingual wine experts.
Alternatively, explore the region on a bike; just be careful on the way home if you’ve had your fair share of wine. Martin’s Bikes and Wines is based in Chacras de Coria and runs wine-bike trips here and in neighboring Luján de Cuyo. Tours visit two or three bodegas and have the option to include lunch. Sergio Sanchi Viajes y Turismo (Espejo 65, Mendoza) is another independently-run bike tour offering a similar service to Mr. Hugo.
If you happen to be around during the first week of March then you’ll be able to enjoy the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia. This festival celebrates the grape harvest and just about everything else associated with Mendoza’s wine-making heritage, including plenty of consumption. In addition to wine tasting, you’ll be able to sample local cuisine and enjoy folkloric music and dance performances. On the Friday night, festival-goers head to the Frank Romero Day Amphitheater in Parque San Martín for the presentation of the festival queen contestants. Then, on Saturday there’s a procession followed by the crowning of the queen. Ask at your accommodation about tickets for this event. Otherwise, hang around Plaza Italia, where a big screen broadcasts events and the local wineries circulate with free samples.
Tear yourself away from the delights of Mendoza’s bodegas and look in a westerly direction and you might notice a rather impressive snow-capped mountain. This is Aconcagua, which at 22,837 feet (6,960 meters) above sea level is the tallest mountain peak in the Americas. Sat on the Chilean border, it is part of the Andes mountain range and is the focal point of the 175,445-acre (71,000-hectare) Parque Provincial Aconcagua. If you’re interested in climbing to the summit then you can find information and routes on Aconcagua.com. Plan a minimum of 15 days to reach the summit and return to Mendoza. If going independently then you need to purchase a permit, which is obtainable at Mendoza’s tourist office (San Martín 1143).
Mendoza has an abundance of tour operators that run treks to Aconcagua’s summit. Try Inka Expediciones (Juan B Justo 345) and Andes Vertical (M. 251 Calle Lemos, Maipú) for an idea of itineraries and costs. You don’t need to scale a mountain to hike in the Mendoza region, either. Discover The Andes (Guaymalle, Mendoza) runs one-day hikes in addition to mountain biking and horseback riding excursions. Colangüil Adventure (San Martín, Las Vegas Potrerillos, Luján de Cuyo) offers a similar range of treks.
When booking a hike or trek, check with the tour operator that they will prearrange any necessary permits.
Some of Argentina’s best white-water rafting locations are in the Mendoza province, with rapids varying from grade II to V. The best time to go is in the summer months after the snow melts and fills up the Río Mendoza. Potrerillos, which is 33 miles (53 kilometers) west of Mendoza city is a particularly good rafting hub and two reputable companies operating trips here are Potrerillos Explorer (Av. los Condores, Potrerillos) and Argentina Rafting Expediciones (Amigorena 86, Mendoza). Contact the latter for alternative excursions, such as zip-line, abseiling, horseback riding, and paragliding.
If not to visit the bodegas, Valle de Uco is definitely worth visiting for the day to take in the picturesque scenery and rural villages. Laguna del Diamante is a particularly impressive area. It’s a reservoir framed by Maipo stratovolcano. Andes Vertical (M. 251 Calle Lemos, Maipú) 4WD safari day tours to both the lagoon and volcano between November and March.
Las Leñas Skiing
Around 310 miles (500 kilometers) southwest of Mendoza is the ski resort of Las Leñas. It’s kind of a skiing party for wealthy Argentines – the resort has a host of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs – yet not completely out of reach for lower-end travelers. Open from July to October, there are 43,244 acres (17,500 hectares) of skiable surface, which includes 29 pistes, a freestyle snow park, and a slalom area. Lessons are available for all levels and there’s a shop from where you can rent/buy clothing and equipment.
You’ll find 18 restaurants at the resort; three on trails and 15 at the base. There’s everything from pizzerias and Tex-Mex to steakhouses and buffet restaurants. After dinner, you can hit the bars and nightclubs, most of which are part of the resort’s hotels. The clubs generally get going around 1 a.m. and continue until 6.30 a.m., giving just enough time for a quick sleep before getting back out on the slopes The resort also counts on seven hotels plus self-serviced apartments that sleep up to eight people. See the Lodgings section of the resort’s website.
Buenos Aires Portal is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.