Arrive in Mendoza, a tucked-away corner of western Argentina nestled beneath the towering snow-capped Andes. One of the world’s striking wine regions, this desert oasis gives birth to world-class Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet, along with a free-spirited, laid back lifestyle. It’s no wonder travelers fall in love with the place. Meet your English-speaking driver at the airport and make a beeline for a blissful retreat for wine lovers outside the city. Check into your modern adobe casita with fireplace, living area, terrace with a plunge pool, and a rooftop terrace with another fireplace, ideal for sunsets and stargazing.
Unwind in their spa offering vino therapy with a Malbec bath or grape seed exfoliation. At harvest time, feel free to help pick the grapes. Impeccable service, gracious on-site owners, striking architecture, a tranquilo ambiance, and glorious views of the snow-clad Andes will seduce you. (Cavas Wine Lodge)
Luján de Cuyo forms part of the Mendoza River region where Malbec thrives. Considered by many winemakers as a viticultural ”promised land,” this region was the first to institute the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée) for Argentine Malbec. Today, explore those different sub-appellations and microclimates to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for why the unique combination of desert-like climate and high altitude provide the ideal terruño.
Visit a bodega hidden off a dusty country road. Chime the bell of this tiny garage winery, whose owner and winemaker is considered to be one of the fathers of Mendocino terroir. Using their own savings, ingenuity, and passion, the family has transformed viticulture in Mendoza. Visit this enchanting place with the family and try their handcrafted wines and homemade olive oil. This is as local as it gets!
Next, visit friends dedicated to making long, satiny and ripe wines never released early to market. Get to know the family and their small project as they share the art of their craft. Visit the cellar with a barrel tasting of newer vintages and then sit down to a relaxed tasting with artisan cheeses and spirited conversation.
Stop at a state-of-the-art winery for a luxurious five-course gourmet lunch in their intimate, handsome winery restaurant. Showcasing the dramatic views of the Andes, the ingenious chef skillfully pairs each dish with their full line Malbec, from rosé to the reserve and nouveau takes on old school dishes. Delight in scenery, elegant setting, and superior service. ¡Salud!
Finally, connect with a new boutique vineyard started by a passionate family, after several years of devoting themselves to the vineyard and grape sales to nearby wineries. The passion is obvious in everything this family does. Meet the daughter, a certified sommelier, taste samples from the barrels, and sit down to sip their zingy rosé, bright Chardonnay (and oddity in Mendoza), and fresh Malbec on the breezy terrace. (Cavas Wine Lodge)
This morning, start at Mendoza’s traditional market dating back to the 19th century where locals shop, from home cooks to the region’s best chefs. Overflowing with colorful characters and lively banter, pause to speak with the caseros and artisan producers. Investigate the intriguing stalls selling a multitude of foodstuffs like Serrano ham, provoleta, mermeleda, wild asparagus and blue eggs from the Araucano chickens. Treat yourself to a small bocado, snack, such as a savory empanada or crispy wedge of pizza.
Stroll through the bustling downtown pedestrian malls to take in this relaxed, shady provincial city. Stop for an olive oil tasting where the owner’s passion is artisan olive oil, brought to the region by European immigrants. Sit down to an educational tasting of the peppery Arauco and floral Manzanilla accompanied by scrumptious home baked bread, spreads, nibbles, and a glass of wine.
For lunch, drive to eastern Mendoza to an organic vegetable farm. Using exclusive recipes, they produce more than thirty confits, preserves and pickles, from roasted piquillo peppers to green tomato chutney, rose confit, and Malbec jelly. Take a stroll around the property and visit the pristine gardens followed by a guided five-course guided tasting lunch in the beautifully restored casona. (Cavas Wine Lodge)
Visit an exquisite estate on the sloping plateau of Agrelo where the focus is on producing limited edition wines from zesty young Sauvignon Blanc to gran Malbec blends and even a Cabernet Franc. Be received by their warm team to understand their concept of less-is-more viticulture. Visit the sleek, pristine winery with concrete construction and then delight in an educational tasting of their fabulous, well-balanced icon wines.
Drive over the rolling hills to the high-altitude Uco Valley. A lush agricultural valley in the midst of a parched desert, the valley floor is dotted with almond trees and fruit orchards. With a privileged natural setting below a stretch of the Andes framed by the imposing Mount Tupungato.
Head to a famed “wine condo” where the Mendoza plateau abruptly rises into the Andes. This project is a fascinating intersection of architectural innovation combined with classic winemaking methods where the proprietors of chateaux in Bordeaux have set their sights on the New World. The result? Rich, velvety red wines that are elegantly crafted. Visit the facilities and sit down to an exclusive tasting followed by a private luncheon.
In the hamlet of Vista Flores, check into your suite at an intimate wine estate. Cozy up by the fireplace with a book selected from their 8,000-volume, multi-lingual library. Invigorate your body with a swim in the open-air pool or a walk through the extensive vineyards. In the evening, tantalize your palate with tasty regional dishes thoughtfully paired with house wines. (Casa Antucura)
This morning, head into the hills on horseback where the Andes tower above you like a huge, natural wall. The air is dry, crisp, and clear. The silence is vast and profound—the only sounds are the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves and the gentle rustling of the grape leaves.
Afterwards, visit a flagship winery owned by a Dutch tycoon with a passion for wine. Forging cutting-edge technology and sleek cruciform design, visit the property with the resident winemaker to barrel taste and then sit down to a special vertical tasting of selected vintages.
Lunch at the new restaurant of a swish polo club where a young chef spins an inventive view on Argentine comfort food paired with Uco’s fabulous wines. Drop-off at the airport in the early evening for your flight to Buenos Aires.