by Ben Janeczko
Mendoza is one of the most famous wine regions in the world. With over 350,000 acres of planted vineyards, a spectacular setting in the foothills of the Andes and a wide variety of vineyards and wines to suit all budgets, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re like me and have mostly visited wineries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, it is important to know that there are some important differences to keep in mind when visiting Mendoza. You really need to plan ahead and be aware of the size of this amazing destination, which is divided into three regions; Luján de Cuyo, Uco Valley (Valle de Uco), and Maipu.
Luján de Cuyo is the most popular area to visit and is home to many of the biggest names in South American wine, such as Alta Vista, Tapiz, and Catena Zapata. The Uco Valley is the newest region within Mendoza and is making a name for itself quickly with stunning landscapes and some of the most fertile land. Maipu is much closer to Mendoza and more accessible, with wineries set in a more urban environment.
Below are my tips to get the most out of your trip:
- Almost all wineries in Mendoza require a pre-booked appointment, which usually includes a tour of the winery, explanation of the winemaking process and a wine tasting. Winery visits take time, and it’s usually best to plan to visit no more than three in one day.
- Many of the wineries in Mendoza have amazing cellar door restaurants and/or grounds where you can enjoy a picnic or snack. Take the time to soak up the amazing landscapes of the area whilst you sample the local hospitality.
- English language tours are usually only available on particular days of the week, so if there are particular wineries you want to visit you will need to keep this in mind.
- Transport can be challenging. Taxis take a long time to organise and communication with your driver in any language other than Spanish may prove difficult.
- There is a hop on/off bus available, which services different routes each day and is a good option if you’re not particularly fussed about which wineries/wines you get to try out.
- You’re obviously going to try the Malbec – you must try it. But also make an effort to try Torrontes, the local white wine variety which is delicious and unique. There is also excellent Chardonnay and Cabernet and many more to try.
- Much like the rest of the world, well-known brands and high prices doesn’t necessarily mean the best experience (or the best wine). Make the effort to visit wineries you’ve never heard of, sample wines you can’t get at home, get local recommendations.
- Whist it is possible to book visits, transport and restaurants on the ground when you arrive, it is very difficult and takes up a lot of time. Arranging a local driver and booking appointments in advance or booking a tour is well worth it.
In summary, the wineries of Mendoza are well worth a visit. However you plan to visit the wineries, make sure you do plan ahead – that way you will spend more time relaxing and enjoying the local view & produce, and less time trying to organise your visits on the fly.
If you want to find out more about the destinations in this article, or have any questions in general please contact us.