Wine had never interested me until a few years ago. Surprise, surprise, my
interest and enjoyment of wine began when I first visited Mendoza in 2016. When
I revisited Argentina in 2019, I drank it in every corner of the country that I
visited. In 2016 I was lucky to be staying in the Lujan de Cuyo region and
would often walk along the dirt tracks behind the house that weaved between the
vines of Bodega (Winery) Kaiken. This made me want to visit wineries to get an
understanding of the processes involved in making the famous Mendocino Malbec
and luckily I was able too.
There are some world-renowned bodegas in Mendoza, making it
difficult to choose which to visit when you possibly have just a few days. This
guide puts together the information you need to
decide which Mendoza wine tours are for you.
Information about wine in Argentina
Argentina is the world’s sixth-largest producer of wine and the largest
in South America, making it a perfect place to explore vineyards. Many types of
wine are produced in this wine country such as Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet
Sauvignon and even Chardonnay, but by far the most famous is Malbec.
Mendoza, which has a metropolitan area population of 1.4 million, sits
along the eastern edge of the Andes, 15 hours by bus or a two-hour
flight from Buenos Aires. It is hugely famous for its production of wine and
the Mendoza region accounts for 80% of Argentina’s total production. Bottles
can be found across the world, even in my local mini-supermarket!
Mendoza is a beautiful city that is home to
more than just wine (but that is very important here). At the western edge of
the city lies Parque San Martin, which spans almost 1000 acres and is home to a
university, museum, stadium and many other attractions. The five plazas in the
city centre a host markets and are fascinating places to sit and soak up the
sun whilst enjoying empanadas or a choripan!
There is so much to see and do in and around Mendoza, but this post
is here to help you with choosing a wine tour. You need to
decide which region to visit, which wineries and what sort of tour to
participate in. If you are a wine-fanatic then you will want to spend 3 days
exploring all of the regions, but if you are limited for time, you’ll probably
be best sticking to the two regions closest to the city (Maipu and Luján de
Wine regions in Mendoza and which wineries to visit
Mendoza has three areas producing wines, Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo and Uco
Valley. All produce award-winning wines, but each has a different feel. At most
wineries, you’ll be able to do a wine tasting tour where you can taste and
learn about the wine!
The lowest altitude of Mendoza’s wine-producing regions and closest
to the city, this region is the easiest to visit. Just because it is easy to visit
doesn’t mean the quality lacks, some of the best wines come from this area.
Getting around Maipu
Being the smallest and flattest of the three wine regions in Mendoza, cycling
is the most fun and convenient way to get around! There are a few places to
hire bikes locally they will provide you with maps to find your way. Cycling
amongst the vineyards is one of the best ways to explore!
When you hire bikes you’ll be able to visit several wineries throughout the
day. The maps provided by the hire shops pass many different wineries that will
be open for tours. You can stop halfway through the day to enjoy lunch (with
wine of course) and carry-on cycling afterwards! Be careful not to drink too
much whilst on a bike tour.
Trapiche produce more than 3.5 million cases of wine per year and is one
of the most popular wines to come out of Mendoza since it was established in
1883! Thankfully I can buy their Oak Cask Malbec in my local supermarket to
enjoying a little bit of Mendoza at home in England! The grapes used by Trapiche
are sourced from the highest-quality vineyards across Mendoza but the Italian
styled winery is located in Maipu where you can visit.
I recommend contacting Trapiche to book a tour to plan your day. Another
way of visiting is through a pre-booked night tour; this involves a
4-hour trip that includes dinner, tasting and a tour of the facilities.
Other wineries in Maipu
The small-nature of Maipu means that there are lots of wineries close
together making it difficult to choose where to stop. Familia Zuccardi is worth
the stop, where you can tour, taste and even learn to cook. They produce
some of the top wines in Argentina and are extremely welcoming to visitors. If
you want to visit an organic winery, Cecchin is for you. The winery is
certified organic and you can tour and taste every day apart from Sundays.
Lujan de Cuyo
Slightly further out of the city Lujan, this area is home to some of the
oldest vines in the country. Located south of the city, Luján again is home to
some of Argentina’s most famous wineries. Often named the
home of Malbec, this sub-region has more vines of Malbec than France!
Cycling is available in Luján de Cuyo, but the wineries are more spread
out. If you choose to stay in the area around Chacras de Coria then cycling is
possible along many dedicated cycling routes. Otherwise, I would recommend
hiring a driver who will transport you for the day so that you don’t have to
worry about calling a taxi after each stop. Another option to do the entire wine route is to hire the Wine Bus.
If you aren’t confident cycling alone, then bike tours are available. A popular one
passes through Nieto Senetiner and onto Bodega Vistalba where you will see the
processes and then onto Bodega Kaiken. Whilst at both wineries you will take
part in a tasting and halfway through the day enjoy a lunch with wine included!
Another excellent option in Lujan de Cuyo is to visit the Trez Wines Winery, where you can do a tasting of the outstanding wines: Vivante, Petit Trez, Torrontés, Harslevelu, and Furmint. There is also the possibility of having lunch and enjoying a delicious three-course meal, including starters, main course and dessert. Among the featured dishes is the steak eye with soy sauce and curry croute, tomato confit and purple sauerkraut.
Clos de Chacras
This boutique, family-owned winery is nestled in the centre of Chacras de
Coria. Some of the vines in this bodega date back more than 80 years and have
been passed down through the family. I think this winery is so interesting
because you step off the street and into a tranquil haven that feels as
though you have time travelled. Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Chardonnay are produced here, but only 140,000 bottles per year. The winery is
open for lunch and tasting Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and bookings are
The winery, built in a colonial style in 1888, is truly beautiful. Its
location just off of the Pan-American Highway provides westerly views to the
snow-capped Andes. Here you can try some of their highest-quality wines during
special tastings that include cheese and cold-meats. If you fancy lunch, then
enjoy a meal in the gardens with a carefully chosen wine pairing. You can also
enter the winery where experts will share with you the processes involved in
making some of the highest quality wines in Mendoza, and unsurprisingly this
will end with a tasting!
Valle de Uco (Uco Valley)
The furthest wine region from Mendoza city and also the highest with
elevations of vines reaching almost 4,000ft above sea level. This is probably
the most scenic of the regions of Mendoza, sitting right on the western slopes
of the Andes. The prominence of the mountains is spectacular, particularly
Cerro Tupungato which is a semi-active volcano. Wineries litter the landscape
and there is a wide variety to choose from.
To visit this region you’ll need either a pre-booked tour or a
hired-driver for the day, but it is worth the extra effort!
One of my favourite wines I drank during my time in
Mendoza was from this winery. I even managed to bring home a couple of bottles
of their 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in my backpack (without any
Salentein is one of the largest in the region, home to a cellar with a
capacity of 5000 barrels! The cellar is designed in a cross-shape with two
floors, one for the creation of the wine from grape and the subterranean at
nine metres below the surface is where the wine is aged in oak. The Killka Art
Gallery and Cultural Centres home is at Salentein where Dutch and Argentine
artists showcase their work. This winery is extremely interesting and produces
top-quality wines that you need to taste.
A relatively young winery, Andeluna was founded in 2003 near the town of
Tupungnato in Valle de Uco. The soil below the surface produces wine of a
higher minerality which produces more intense and concentrated wines and
Andeluna wants to ensure that the surroundings are represented in the wine. The
building is constructed in a French chateau-style, with high ceilings and even
an open kitchen to watch the meals being prepared.
Visit Andeluna along with Salentein and Domaine Bousquet as part of a full-day tour. During this,
you will explore the history, the processes and the vines and at one, you will
enjoy a six-course meal served with matching wines.
On your way through Valle de Uco, I recommend that you do not miss the tasting at Bodega Superuco, it is a walk of an hour and a half where you will visit the facilities of this important and traditional Mendoza winery. You are going to have a tasting of its important wines accompanied by a delicious bread or cheese board. The wines to be tasted are the following: Calcáreo, SuperUco and Genitori.
For any questions about a
trip to Mendoza send Tangol a message who will be happy to help and advise you.