An Introduction to Argentina’s Wine Capital
With rocky, sandy soils ideal for viticulture it is easy to understand why Mendoza is one of the world’s wine capitals.
Viticulture in Argentina dates back to the mid-1500s when Spanish colonialists crossed the Atlantic with the first vitis vinifera (common grape). The vines flourished in the rich, Andean terroir prompting later waves of European migrants to introduce new varietals and technologies. Today, Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, and the three principal areas of Mendoza are the heart of Argentine production.
Luján de Cuyo: The land of Malbec
Nestled along the banks of the Mendoza River, Luján de Cuyo is considered the birthplace of Argentina’s contemporary wine renaissance. The vintners of Luján are credited with reviving Argentina’s viticulture in the 1990s by steering production towards smaller volumes, better quality and international recognition. The award-winning Argentine wines of present are the proverbial fruits of their labor.
Maipú: Where history is preserved
East of Luján and also along the southern outskirts of Mendoza City, Maipú boasts the most traditional Argentinian wineries including Bodega La Rural the largest, historical winery in the country. Maipú produces a number of award-winning reds from the Malbec, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. The area is also gaining international attention for its Arauco olive oil, picked and pressed from century-old olive farms lining what is now called “The Olive Road.”
Valle de Uco: The newcomer
Known for its stunning Andean scenery and higher altitudes, Valle de Uco (Uco Valley) is Mendoza’s newest wine region. Located farther south, the valley first received global acclaim in 2012. Investments followed international attention and Valle de Uco has emerged as an up-and-coming producer of top quality wines including award-winning Malbecs and blends; and more recently, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and the native Torrontes varietals.
Wine tasting in Mendoza
Vineyard tours and tastings can be self-organized or through a company. Prior reservations are strongly recommended for vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, while wine tasting via bike excursion is increasing popular in Maipú. When choosing accommodations or planning tours keep in mind that the viticultural areas of Mendoza are large and may be an hour apart.
- Trout & Wine has an excellent reputation and is considered the top tour provider in Mendoza.
- Buenos Aires-based Expat, Gringo in Buenos Aires, has an Ultimate Guide to Mendoza.
- Dedicated to all things Mendocino, Experience Mendoza is a fairly inclusive, online guide with outdoor, adventure-related options in the area.
- Welcome Argentina includes a guide to tourism in Mendoza with features on attractions, tours, eating and lodging by area.
- Wines of Argentina is an organization aimed at promoting Argentine wines internationally with useful information about the history of viticulture in Argentina and the wine producing regions.
Photos taken during a tour of Luján de Cuyo with Trout & Wine.