destination-hero

Courtesy Casa de Uco

If not for the Andes and their melting glaciers, the Mendoza wine regions, which receive more than 300 days of sunlight each year and very little rainfall, could never have been.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sleep…on your private terrace at The Vines Resort & Spa
  • Experience…the chef’s table at Francis Mallmann’s hotspot Siete Fuegos
  • Splurge…on a vineyard of your own in Mendoza’s cutting-edge Uco Valley
  • Eat…a picnic lunch surrounded by glacier-capped volcanoes
  • Drink…in the vineyard views with your lunch-pairing at Ruca Malen
  • Savor…a private asado under the stars at The Vines Resort & Spa
  • Visit…the spa at Cavas Wine Lodge for a crushed Malbec seed scrub
  • See…the southern constellations on a sunrise horseback ride into the Andes
  • Shop…for small-production labels at the Vines Tasting Room
  • Know…that Indagare can help create an itinerary pairing Argentine wine country with beach time in Uruguay or adventure in Patagonia

Lay of the Land

“It seems only natural, in a place where stone fruit ripens in mid-February, to look into the starry night sky and find Orion suspended upside down, the tip of his sword pointing upward.”

The provincial capital of Mendoza lies a thousand kilometers to the west of Buenos Aires, just shy of the soaring snowcapped Cordón del Plata and the Chilean border. Somewhere between these two cities, the fertile pampas of Argentina’s lush, cattle-speckled heartland give way to a sun-baked sweep of clay and gravel that has, by the grace of its nourishing glacial rivers, established itself as South America’s preeminent terroir. Today Mendoza’s dusty desert foothills wear orderly ribbons of green, and the province, which has become a destination worthy of serious enoturistas, is home to some 1,500 wineries, a handful of landmark restaurants and a couple of Argentina’s most cosseting country escapes.

Most of Mendoza’s visitors arrive from Santiago or Buenos Aires, glimpsing their first vines in the small commercial airport’s landscaped parking lot. Between the airport and wine country is the city itself, a crisscross of gracious plazas, wide poplar-lined avenues and colonial-era irrigation canals (or “acequias“) that deliver snowmelt from the mountains, sustaining its improbable canopy of green.

Though downtown Mendoza has its charms, travelers with only a few days to explore will want to make their way quickly into the vineyards, which extend south from the city along the front range of the Andes. The region’s most historic wineries are clustered in Luján de Cuyo, less than an hour outside of town. Lately, many of them are sourcing at least some of their fruit from up-and-coming regions further south, where wine grapes benefit from even greater daily temperature extremes. In the pioneering Uco Valley, almost two hours away from the city, vineyards are planted at some of the highest elevations on earth. A few years ago this area had little to offer in the way of creature comforts, but these days, hotel and restaurant openings are luring more and more visitors south. Though the majority of Mendoza’s visitors choose a single home base, avid oenophiles should consider splitting their time—a couple of nights in Luján (at Cavas Wine Lodge) and a couple in the “Valle de Uco” (at the Vines Resort & Spa or Casa de Uco).

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Beyond… Mendoza

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