Mendoza, nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Western Argentina, is that country’s primary wine region. It produces about 90 percent of the country’s wines and is a wonderful destination for wine touring.
But it’s huge, with more than 1,500 wineries throughout its 494,000 acres. There are three wine producing areas in the Mendoza region: Luján de Cuyo, the Uco Valley (Valle de Uco), and Maipú.
To maximize your Mendoza wine experience, it’s best to dedicate a day to a particular wine region rather than try to squeeze in more than one at once. The full area is just too vast.
We used the centrally located city of Mendoza as our base for exploring the Mendoza wine region.
Here is how we recommend you maximize your Mendoza wine experience, depending on how much time you have.
The first vines were planted in the 1500s. Mendoza is renowned for its Malbec, which is originally from France (where there it’s called Côt or Cahors). The Mendoza wine region also produces Torrontés, a native white, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and red blends. Some call Torrontés the “big liar” because one expects the wine to be sweet, but it’s actually dry. Since the region is technically a desert, winemakers are legally required to irrigate their vines. This is unlike some parts of Europe, where irrigation is not allowed.
Where to go if you have only one day: Luján de Cuyo
About 45 minutes south of the city of Mendoza, Luján de Cuyo is the largest wine region in Mendoza, and the most varied. This Mendoza wine region is where one would find both long-standing family-tradition wineries, such as Bodega Clos de Chacras as well as modern, new wineries, like Bodega Matervini. We had a fabulous tour of Luján de Cuyo with Sabrina, with Ampora Wine Tours.
If you have a couple of days: The Uco Valley
For a completely different perspective and Mendoza wine experience, next head to the Uco Valley, the newest Mendoza wine region. It’s higher up in the Andes and the wineries more experimental. It’s further out, about 70 minutes south of the city of Mendoza. The soil in the Uco Valley is rockier and more volcanic, and the vines are at higher elevation than in the other regions. The Uco Valley is where to find innovative wineries such as Bodega Piedra Negra and Bodega Rolland. We had a terrific tour with Flor, with Mendoza Andes/the Tintos.
If you have one more day: Maipú
Maipú is the oldest Mendoza wine region, and the closest to the city of Mendoza, only 30 minutes away. It only has about 20 wineries, and fewer tour operators offer tours to the region. But it does have great wineries, such as the venerable Trapiche winery, which was founded in 1883 and which is Argentina’s largest wine exporter. Maipú is also known for its olive oil, so it provides a slightly different tasting experience if you wanted to add that in. We had a nice tour of Maipú with Kahuak.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful. Check back; we’ll be delving deeper into these regions in future posts. Please feel free to contact us and share your own Mendoza wine experiences!
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