Mendoza, the Napa Valley of Argentina, is the premier region producing an astounding array of wines, most notably Malbec. The use of the word Mendoza can be confusing to people not familiar with this region as Mendoza is the capital city of the Mendoza Province. The region resides in the foothills on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains which provide dramatic backdrop views of vineyards and wineries throughout.
Mendoza accounts for approximately two-thirds of the country's entire wine production. There are a number of wine regions within the Mendoza Province including Maipú, Luján de Cuyo, Valle de Uco (e.g. Uco Valley), San Rafael, and San Martin. My personal favorite, the Luján de Cuyo region, is particularly known for its Malbec and includes notable bodegas such as Luigi Bosca, Séptima, Catena Zapata, Ruca Malén, and Bressia. Mendoza's primary grape varietal is Malbec although the region produces a number of outstanding wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Chardonnay grapes.
Wine Tasting - Reservations Required
Almost all wineries in Mendoza require a reservation for a tour and tasting. What's very different in Mendoza than I have found in other countries is that almost every winery puts their guests in a room to watch a video about the winery before the actual tour then subsequent tasting. I also found that about every winery thoroughly explains the wine making process. Because of this itinerary, the time to complete the tour and tasting limits the amount of wineries you can visit in a day. Depending on your level of patience and wine knowledge, this can get a little annoying. Sitting in a dark room watching a marketing video then hearing from the tour guide about how wine is aged in an oak barrel for the third time in a day can get really old when all you want to do is taste wine and enjoy the amazing views on the veranda.
Typically wine tour attendees have a choice of joining a group wine tour or pay more money by hiring a private driver. However, because of the strong exchange rate of the US Dollar against the Argentine Peso, hiring a private driver for the day is relatively inexpensive and surprisingly roughly the same price as joining a group tour. Don't worry about making your own winery reservations. The hotel concierge or the wine tour company will make reservations on your behalf. Beyond Google, you can 'Like' many wine tour companies on Facebook and perform some due diligence prior to your trip. I recommend Mendoza Wine Tours who consistently post pictures and updates in English on their Facebook page.
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