Where is Mendoza?
Those of you who read the first article of our new series, “Discover Argentina: Patagonia”, will remember our discussing the province of Neuquén, bordered by the Limay and Colorado Rivers, and Andes Mountains. Traveling north from Neuquén, and also bordering the Andes — plus the Argentine provinces of La Pampa, San Luis, and San Juan — you’ll reach the province of Mendoza.
France, Italy, and California’s Napa Valley are all the classic destinations for wine connoisseurs, however, all of that changed in the past 20 years with the resurgence of the Malbec varietal. Having won awards year after year, the province of Mendoza in Argentina has become a sought after destination for wine lovers throughout the world.
Depending upon how great your interest is in wine, there are several wine tours in Mendoza, whether you’re a novice or an expert. The Half-Day Mendoza Wine Country Experience tour or the Full-Day Wine Experience at Uco Valley are a great option for those that are interested in learning more about the grapes and the unique environment that they thrive in.
The Argentine wine region is the fifth largest in the world, with the province of Mendoza accounting for more than 65% of the country’s wine production. The vineyards in Mendoza, located in the Andes Mountains near Mount Aconcagua, are among those at the highest altitudes for vines planted anywhere in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot grapes grown in Mendoza are used in the production of premium varietal wines. Other grapes grown here are Chardonnay and Tempranillo.
Malbec, being the most popular varietal, was introduced to Argentina in the late 1800’s, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that it became popular. What is unique about this wine is that it’s produced at a high altitude, about 2,800 to 5,000 feet above sea level. Malbec produced in these high regions are among the highest ranked. Coincidence? We think not.
Malbecs are known for their velvety mouthfeel, fruit forward in flavor and appearing deep in color. Malbec has quickly risen to be THE national varietal in Argentina and makes a perfect pairing for Argentina's other national treasure, beef.
Not interested in wine? There are plenty of other things to do in Mendoza in addition to touring the vineyards. What about an olive oil tasting tour? Or hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking in the Andes foothills?
See the Sights, Enjoy Natural Beauty
Mendoza, while known for its wine production, has much to offer in regard to beauty, culture and adventure. For an introduction to this city why not look into a city tour? The Mendoza City Tour and General San Martin Park itinerary is designed to show you Mendoza in a relaxing way.
Visit Mendoza’s Historical Area and General San Martin Park, a beautiful urban green space enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.. The Frank Romero Day Amphitheater and Mondialista Stadium are also landmarks that are not to be missed.
Are You Adventurous?
If you thought adventure in Argentina was confined to Patagonia, think again. Nestled in the Andes, you can rest assured that there are plenty of opportunities to get your heart racing. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to go river rafting in Argentina. With level 3 and 4 rapids, you’ll be wanting a glass of Malbec by the time the day is done.
If you haven’t had your fill of the mountains consider traveling north of Mendoza to hike the Pan-American Highway to the top of the Pre-Andes Mountains, at about 10,000 feet. This area, offers magnificent views of Aconcagua which is located at 22,838 feet and is the highest mountain outside Asia.
This area is not completely isolated as there are a number of villages to visit along the way: Picheuta, Polvaredas, and Punta de Vacas. Depending on the time of year, Los Penitentes is a popular skiing destination. Puente del Inca, “Inca’s Bridge,” is not to be missed as it is a natural bridge over the thermal waters of the Las Cuevas River. With jaw dropping scenery, and weather permitting, you might get to see Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) of the Andes, a monument 13,779 feet above sea level. This statue, on the border between Argentina and Chile, represents peace and harmony between the two countries. It is not to be confused with Christ the Redeemer, a statue on Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Between its fertile vineyards, delectable wine, river rafting, and mountaineering, Mendoza is a high altitude oasis suited for lovers of luxury and adventure.