Argentina is known as “the land of good sunshine and good wine”. As you plan your Argentina vacation, it is highly recommended that you at least get a taste of Mendoza – Argentina’s wine country. Famed for its award-winning Malbecs and other bold reds, Mendoza is dotted with gorgeous vineyards set against the snow-peaked Andean mountain range. Though small in size, the cosmopolitan city of Mendoza is packed with innovative restaurants, natural wonders, and great nightlife, making it a perfect destination for wine enthusiasts, party goers, and adrenaline junkies.
Mendoza’s vast landscape is blessed with over 300 days of sun a year and gets very little rain. In the centre of Argentina, the Mendoza region is often referred to as the Cuyo. Mendoza city, situated about a 20-minute drive from the vineyards, was founded in 1561 by Spanish colonialists, and has since grown to attract travellers and oenophiles from around the globe. The relaxed city showcases a mix of architecture, including Art Deco and ’60s modern style along its tree-lined streets.
Malbec and More
Mendoza is a true vineyard paradise. It’s home to world-famous Malbecs. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out. Over the past two decades this top-quality wine has made waves on the world stage. Yet, despite Malbec’s legendary status, Mendoza also grows grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Syrah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Among white grapes, you will find Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, the occasional Semillón or Pinot Grigio, and Torrontés, an aromatic grape more frequently associated with the country’s northern Salta region. Visit boutique wineries and tasting rooms for sumptuous samplings with the industry’s most renowned winemakers. Many wineries and bodegas offer multi-course wine pairing lunches. Enjoy a bike wine tour or escorted driving tour among the region’s best spots. Plan your visit to coincide with the annual Vendimia (Harvest Festival), which kicks off in the month of March with lively wine events and musical concerts.
Good news, carnivores! Mendoza, like the rest of Argentina, serves up some of the best meat in the world. Sink your teeth into the best beef around (a definite must-try!), and indulge in the “asado”, Argentina’s famous grilled-meat feast. Argentina is a meat lovers’ paradise, and Mendoza bustles with innovative restaurants. There’s more to Mendoza’s cuisine than meat, however. Some of Argentina’s premier chefs have set up shop in Mendoza and they’re serving top-quality cuisine featuring fresh ingredients from local olive groves, vegetable fields, and fruit orchards. Be sure to sample tasty clay-oven-baked empanadas and one of many gorgeous charcuterie plates. If you’re a fan of pizza and pasta, these Italian staples are ubiquitous here as well. Keep in mind that Mendocinans eat late, even by Argentine standards, so plan your evening accordingly (some restaurants don’t even open until 10pm). If you haven’t fallen into a food coma after your sumptuous dinner, saunter along Mendoza’s main thoroughfare and get energized with its cracking nightlife.
Mendoza is alive four seasons of the year, and there is no shortage of amazing outdoor activities to enjoy in the area. Memorable hikes in the Andes, epic mountain biking trails, and paragliding are perennial favourites here. Looking to release your inner gaucho? Cross the Andes on a horseback trek. For an unexpected Argentine activity, hit the ski hills for some challenging slopes in Las Leñas. The best time to ski is between mid July and early September. Mendoza also offers some of the best white-water rafting in Argentina. During the summer months, the snow melts in the Andes and fills the Mendoza River, creating the perfect storm of adventure.