Mendoza is one of the greatest wine regions in the world. With more than 1,500 wineries spread out through the three main wine regions - Lujan de Cuyo, Valle de Uco, and Maipu - wide open spaces with nothing but vines, mountain grandeur and blue skies, and some of the best winery architecture in the world, it is a spot you truly don't want to miss.
What Makes Mendoza Such An Amazing Wine Region?
Mendoza, Argentina is one of the best places in the world to drink wine and enjoy it with good food and company. The wineries range from small, family owned and cozy, to large production modern architectural masterpieces. What all have in common is a strong sense of heritage and commitment to quality – as well as a warmth unlike anywhere else in the world. Both in the air and in the people.
To meet the most adorable, top quality winemaker, go visit Carmelo Patti in Lujan de Cuyo and see him make amazing Malbecs all on his own. He is said to be a one-man army, making his wines single handedly with all the attention and care of a true master-craftsman. We think it’s his warmth and the humility of his surroundings, despite International acclaim of his wines, that make the experience so special.
While in Lujan, if you want to have amazing Sparkling wine (and who doesn't?), you can head to Chandon for a multi-course winery lunch and to taste through as many bubbles as your heart desires.
If it’s an architectural masterpiece you’re after, Salentein in the Uco Valley offers great wines, gorgeous architecture and even an art gallery with modern and traditional exhibits that showcase regional and International talent. Their barrel room was designed to be a fabulous location for music concerts, with tremendous acoustics and barrels integrated into the décor.
While in the Uco Valley, you should also visit Clos de los Siete, a project of four Mendoza wineries that use distinctly different methods of French-influenced winemaking, run by Michel Rolland. Marcelo Pelleriti is the famed winemaker for Monteviejo and brings his passion for music and art into the space, with frequent art exhibits and an annual rock concert. Other wineries on the property are Mariflor and DiamAndes.
Just a few short minutes away, you can join the Gimenez Riili family's cozy winery, receiving a tour with one of the winery's handsome brothers, as well as an asado if you like. While their Gran Reserva Malbec is not to be missed, their Perpetuum Torrontes really steals the show. The Vines of Mendoza is right next door, with 1,000 sprawling acres of vineyards, a state-of-the-art microfermentation winery for more than 200 wines (now open to the public for tours), and The Vines Resort & Spa, opening in September 2013.
When in Mendoza, you will undoubtedly drink a great deal of fabulous Malbec, as well as the native white Torrontes, as well as many blends and perhaps even a Bonarda and Tempranillo. Be sure to try the Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot as well – these varietals take on an entirely different personality when grown in the new world sunshine and record altitudes. Read through the Tasting Notes to learn more about all these great grapes.
With Mendoza’s recent acclaim in Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler as a top hot spot for wine and luxury travel, as well as continuously growing wine accolades from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, Mendoza has established itself as a powerhouse with top quality wines in both the high and low yield categories.
This is just the beginning of your adventure in Mendoza wine country.
Mendoza’s Wine Regions
Mendoza’s wine region is over 350,000 acres (144,000 hectares) of planted vineyards, and produces nearly two-thirds of the country’s wine. Argentina’s most highly rated Malbec wines originate from Mendoza’s high altitude wine regions of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. These areas are in the foothills of the Andes mountains, with elevations of between 2,800 and 5,000 feet.
LUJÁN DE CUYO
With vineyards planted in sandy soil at an altitude of 2,640–3,630 feet, Lujan de Cuyo is known as the land of Malbec. It is part of Mendoza River's high region. Most of the vines here are planted with red wines, but Malbec is not the only grape thriving here. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Torrontes also thrive well.
About 40 minutes south of Mendoza city, this region is considered the place where Argentina's wine movement began - pushing the country from the common table to international production. Luján de Cuyo was the first region to institute the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlée) for Malbec in 1993. This has caused continual increase in the quality and quantity of the wines, and increased global recognition.
UCO VALLEY (VALLE DE UCO)
Approximately 75 minutes south of the city of Mendoza, the Uco Valley (Valle de Uco) is Mendoza's newest wine region, and the one getting the most attention internationally right now. It is known especially for Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Semillon and Torrontes production. The breathtaking natural scenery makes it one of the most picturesque regions in Mendoza.
The Uco Valley has received much global acclaim in 2012, although it has been producing top quality wines for well over a decade. The area is known for its high altitude, with the Tupungato region having vineyards planted almost 4,000 feet above sea level. Uco Valley is in fact one of the world’s highest wine growing regions, with over 80,000 hectares planted between 3,000-3,900 feet.
In addition to producing award-winning Malbecs and blends, the area is also emerging as a source for premium quality white wine varietals such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and even Torrontes.
The region of Maipu, south and east of Mendoza city, has approximately 20 wineries.
Some of the best are La Rural, Familia Zuccardi and Finca Flichman. While you won’t need as much time in Maipu as the other regions, it is not a region to skip, and the additional olive oil tasting and biking opportunities provide a diversion from the Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley tourist experiences.