Just 600 miles west of Buenos Aires lies South America’s biggest wine producing region. Also known as “the land of sun and of good wine,” Mendoza is the capital of malbec, a robust, juicy red wine that pairs beautifully with steak and chimuchurri.
When we’re still huddled inside during winter, Mendocinos on the other side of the Equator are celebrating their most important end-of-summer event: the annual grape harvest. La Vendimia, as it’s called, is a weeklong celebration that takes place in March. Events include fireworks, parades, wine tastings, the election of a harvest queen, and an exclusive performance to close the celebration. La Vendimia is the pride and joy of Mendocinos, and a major asset in the city’s wine tourism.
Wine tasting opportunities and events abound during the rest of the year as well, including tastings in city tasting rooms, gourmet dinners with wine pairings, and tours of nearby vineyards. During warmer months, the city even organizes weekly, open-air concerts on the rooftop of a municipal building called Música y vino en las alturas (Music and wine in the heights). Concertgoers enjoy a free glass of wine while admiring a breathtaking view of the city in front of the Andes cordillera.
A popular way for travellers to tour the winemaking area is by driving or biking from vineyard to vineyard in nearby Maipú, one of the many winemaking areas surrounding the city if Mendoza. Bikes have semi-functional breaks (visitors will develop a significant amount of hand-muscle by the end of the day after exerting so much force trying to avoid crashing into fellow wine tasters), but are nevertheless a great way to see many wineries on a budget. However you go about your wine tour, if you don’t already like wine before coming, you’re pretty much obligated to love it by the time you leave.
Here’s a spotlight into Maipú’s best stops:
At this small olive oil producer, visitors enjoy a guided tour of the grove and production center, followed by a sampling of various olive oils and pastes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. We know it’s a wine tour that you’re going on, but olive oil production is big in Mendoza, too. Videla Aranda 2850, Maipu • +54 261-4990716
Familia Di Tommaso
The guided tasting of four different wines (white, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, and a sweet desert wine) at this small, boutique winery is a perfect introduction to the proper method of wine degustation. Visitors learn to first examine the color, then analyze the viscosity of the liquid and smell its aromas, and finally to taste the wine. Urquiza 8136, Maipú • +54 261-5241829 • familiaditommaso.com
In a modern building on a beautiful, sunny patio, visitors taste six different wines: rosé, merlot, tempranillo, syrah, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon. Indulge that sweet tooth with some of their delicious desserts—you might need the sugar-boost after all that biking. Glaciar Perito Moreno 5513, Maipú • +54 261-4813501 • tempusalba .com
Productores y Sabores
This artisanal producer sells unusual liquors, jams, and olive-products, including chocolate and spiced liquors, olive and bell pepper spread, hot pepper paste, and malbec jam. Gomez 3064, Maipú • +54 261-1557464