Reaching the heights in Argentina

Argentina is more than simply its vibrant wine capital of Mendoza; it offers the world’s highest vineyards, too, where dinosaur bones have been discovered, and even Buenos Aires has a lively wine scene all its own.

Just as in the United States, Argentina’s wine production is overwhelmingly concentrated in one western region. For California read Mendoza, which accounts for around 70 percent of Argentina’s annual harvest. Extending high up into the Andes, where Argentina segues into Chile, Mendoza’s vineyards have one of the wine world’s most spectacular backdrops—and it is here that most of the country’s wine tours begin and end.

But before planning a visit to the country, it’s worth at least considering adding in a trip to one or two other regions that, in their very different ways, also contribute to the increasingly varied and vibrant modern Argentinian wine scene: the arguably even more spectacular—and certainly higher in altitude—Calachaqui Valley in the far northwestern province of Salta, and the less immediately impressive but, with its vast skies, still rather beautiful landscape of the low-lying Patagonian regions of Río Negro and Neuquén.

Visitors to Calachaqui generally begin their tour in the attractive tourist town of Cafayate. Patios de Cafayate (, a grand, faithfully restored farmstead surrounded by vineyards in the grounds of El Esteco winery,  is a handsome and comfortable place to stay, with chef Martín Garramón’s La Rosa restaurant providing sustenance after visiting the El Esteco winery or the agreeably rustic El Porvenir ( just off the town’s main square. Farther afield, you’ll need a 4x4 vehicle to make your way up to the world’s highest vineyards (6,000–10,000ft/1,800–3,000m) at Bodegas Colomé in Molinas. Owned by Swiss businessman Donald Hess, the estate no longer offers accommodation but has a fine art museum and lavender garden.

Art is also one of the attractions at Patagaonia’s Familia Schroeder estate, with its museum devoted to work by local artists. The estate, some 32 miles (52km) from Neuquén city, also draws visitors to its dinosaur cave, an archaeological site where the remains of a 70-million-year-old dinosaur were found during the winery’s construction. More conventional offerings include the chance to spend a day touring the vineyards and enjoying lunch and a tasting, or even joining in with either the pruning or harvest, in season. Set among Malbec vineyards, the modern 18-room Hotel and Spa Valle Perdido Wine Resort is the place to stay while planning your visit to celebrated wineries such as Neuquén’s Noemia ( and, in Río Negro, Bodega Chacra (, both of which are by appointment only.


Mendoza is the indisputable wine-tourism capital of Argentina, with an ever-improving tourist infrastructure that makes for an impressively wide variety of places to stay, visit, and dine. The city of Mendoza itself is very much at the heart of the action, with accommodation ranging from the grand, five-star luxury of the Park Hyatt Mendoza (, to the smaller and more intimate Heuntala Hotel Boutique ( and the charming Bohemia Hotel Boutique ( For eating out, choices include top chef Francis Mallman’s 1884 Restaurant (, effectively a fine-dining take on the Argentinian love of the grill; the French-inspired Anna Bistro (; or the stylishly retro food and surroundings of Fuente y Fonda (

Beyond the city, there are numerous ways in which to explore the vineyards of subregions of Mendoza wine country: You can hire a car, join a group tour, jump on a bike, or—most romantically, but not all that unusually in gaucho country­—go on horseback. Tour companies such as Ampora Wine Tours (, Huentata (, and Kahuak ( can offer tours tailored to your preferences, while the website is a useful database of information encompassing transport, visits, tours, accommodation, and maps.

It’s now much easier to stay, for the entire duration of your trip to Argentina’s wine country, in one or more of the impressive new hotels and guesthouses that have emerged over the past decade. As a base for tours of the fashionable Uco Valley, which is literally the coolest part of Mendoza at altitudes of 3,280–5,250ft (1,000–1,600m), the ingeniously designed, sustainable, and ultra-modern Casa de Uco is set beside a lake amid the vines on a 320ha (790-acre) estate and has a kitchen with a seasonal menu that draws upon its own organic garden. The hotel offers free horse-riding in its extensive grounds and can fit you up with your desired mode of transport to Paraje Altamira, where the Zuccardi family opened its Uco Valley project in 2016. A worthy winner of a Great Wine Capitals award for architecture and landscapes, the impressive building uses local rock, water, and sand, its design blending into the surroundings. Tours of the winery and its vineyards are available with a reservation (, and its superb Infinite Stone restaurant is open for a set four-course lunch menu from Wednesday to Sunday.

In Lújan de Cuyo, 50 minutes from Mendoza city, the most stylish place to stay is Russell Boher Lodge, a cluster of three deluxe villas, each with its own wine cellar, hot tub, and outdoor fireplace, and with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the Andes. In this part of Mendoza, Bodegas Renacer, a specialist in Amarone-style wines, has one of the most creative approaches to wine tourism, offering visitors a choice of three “experiences”—from making your own blend and bottling your own wine, to a “high-class visit” accompanied by a sommelier.

Depending on your tolerance for crowds, and if you are prepared to arrange your accommodation well in advance of your trip, one of the best times to visit Mendoza is at the end of February and beginning of March, during the harvest festival (Festa Nacional de la Vendimia), when Mendoza plays host to  a series of music and dance concerts, processions, fireworks,  and other events (

Buenos Aires

Historically, the area around Argentina’s capital city has not been known for its wine production, but with more than 100ha  (247 acres) now planted in Buenos Aires province, that is starting to change. Trapiche’s cool-climate Costa and Pampa project, almost on the Atlantic coast itself, has been critically acclaimed, and a trip to the winery ( is a pleasant addition to any visit to the Mar del Plata resort, a four-hour drive from Buenos Aires city.

However, if the capital has not hitherto been known for making wine, it has always been a great place in which to buy and taste it. Most visitors to Argentina will find themselves in Buenos Aires for at least some of their stay, and wine lovers will find their time well spent. Shout Brasas and Drinks in Retiro, La Cava Jufré in Villa Crespo, and Aldo’s Vinoteca y Restoran in Monserrat are just three of the city’s many fine wine bars to seek out, while Happening in Costanera Norte and Puerto Madero, Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero, and Oviedo in Recoleta are all restaurants that have earned the maximum three stars from The World of Fine Wine magazine’s World’s Best Wine Lists awards.

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The Vines Resort & Spa

Part of an ambitious project with 1,500ha (3,700 acres) of Uco Valley vineyards, The Vines boasts 22 luxury villas, a restaurant run by top chef Francis Mallmann, and a team of gaucho guides. 
Ruta Provincial 94, km 11, 5565 Tunuyan, Mendoza | +54 26 14 61 39 00

Casa de Uco

Beautiful, sustainably designed boutique hotel amid the vines, with a restaurant featuring seasonal produce from the kitchen garden, as well as a range of activities including horse-riding.
Ruta 94, km 14.5, 5500 Tunuyán, Mendoza | +54 26 14 76 98 31 |

Patios de Cafayate

Within the grounds of El Esteco winery, this classical, 19th-century colonial farmstead in Cafayate in Salta province offers a fine restaurant and cozy rooms in a tranquil setting.
Ruta Nacional 40, 4427 Cafayate, Salta | +54 38 68 42 22 29 |

Rosell Boher Lodge

Another of Mendoza’s new wave of luxury modern boutique hotels, Rosell Boher Lodge features a cluster of private villas,  each with its own patio, hot tub, and outdoor fireplace.
Entrada Ruta 86, 5509 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza | +54 92 61 41 78 267 |

Finca Adalgisa Wine Hotel, Vineyard, and Winery

This charming wine hotel, set in a tastefully and faithfully restored finca within a 100-year-old vineyard, is in a village just 20 minutes from Mendoza city center.
Pueyrredón 2222, Chacras de Coria, Mendoza | +54 26 14 96 07 13 | reservas@ |

Grace Cafayate

Smart boutique hotel with one of the best restaurants in Salta Province, with local ingredients (llama, goat) and a wine list featuring the best of the region.
Ruta Nacional 40, km 4340, 4427 Cafayate, Salta | +54 3868 427000 | |


This elegant Buenos Aires restaurant is renowned for its perfectly cooked seafood, but it also has one of the city’s—and the continent’s—best wine lists.
Antonio Beruti 2602, C1425BBD CABA | +54 11 48 21 37 41 | |

1884 Restaurante

Francis Mallmann’s flagship central Mendoza restaurant showcases his refined skills, with the open grill amid tables  set around a courtyard garden.
Belgrano 1188, 5501 Godoy Cruz, Mendoza | +54 26 14 24 33 36 |

The Urban Restaurant O Fournier

One of Mendoza’s best winery restaurants is in an appropriately spectacular piece of modern architecture. The award-winning contemporary Spanish-Argentinian food is pretty special, too.
Calle Los Indios s/n, 5567 Valle de Uco, Mendoza | +54 92 61 46 71 021 | |

Fuente y Fonda

Traditional Argentinian home cooking is given a stylish modern twist by the talented chef Pablo del Río in a central Mendozan town house filled with charming retro details.
Montevideo 675, 5500 Mendoza, Argentina | +54 26 14 29  88 33 | |

For more restaurants with award-winning wine lists click here.

Catena Zapata

One of the great names in Argentinian wine, Catena Zapata welcomes visitors for an expert guided tour of its remarkable Mayan-style temple of wine.
Cobos s/n, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo 5509, Mendoza | |

Bodegas Colomé

One of Argentina’s oldest wineries boasts what it claims are the world’s highest vineyards (up to 10,000ft/3,000m), an art gallery, and fine Tannat and Malbec.
Ruta Provincial 52, km 20, Molinos, 4419 Salta | +54 38 68 49 42 00 |

Bodega Norton

This fine old Mendoza winery mixes 19th-century charm with modernity and offers a wide range of tourist experiences.
Ruta Provincial 15, km 23.5, 5509 Perdriel, Mendoza | +54 26 14 90 97 00 |

Bodega Familia Schroeder

A Patagonian winery that has done much to attract wine tourists, boasting a dinosaur cave, art gallery, and tasting opportunities.
Calle 7 norte, 8305 San Patricio del Chañar, Neuquén |+54 29 94 89 96 00 |

Pulenta Estate

It’s worth making an appointment to visit one of Argentina’s most highly rated producers.
Ruta Provincial 86, km 6.5, Alto Agrelo, 5509 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza | +54 26 14 40 00 66 |

Familia Zuccardi

With restaurants and visitor centers in Maipú and the Uco Valley, Zuccardi takes wine tourism seriously, from tastings to cookery courses to balloon trips.
Ruta Provincial 33, km 7.5, 5531 Maipú, Mendoza | +54 26 14 41 00 00 |


Another of Mendoza’s most established producers, Trapiche welcomes visitors to its restored Florentine-style mansion in Maipú and its exciting new venture near Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast.
Nueva Mayorga s/n, 5513 Maipú, Mendoza | +54 26 15 20 76 66 |

Cavas y Bodegas Weinert

Weinert offers a taste of the more classical Argentinian style of winemaking, with a tour of the cellar, built in 1890, and an extensive tasting.
San Martín 5923, 5509 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza | +54 26 14 96 46 76 |

Bodega Salentein

Dutch-owned Salentein the award-winning gastronomic and cultural Killka Space, featuring art galleries, a restaurant, and an auditorium, as well as a guesthouse and stunning winery architecture.
Ruta Provincial 89, Los Arboles de Villegas, Mendoza | +54 26 14 41 10 00 |

Bodega Renacer

A Mendoza winery specializing in passito wines, among other things, Renacer has one of the best wine-tourism programs, even offering visitors the chance to blend and bottle their own wines.
Brandsen 1863, 5507 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza | +54 26 15 24 44 16 |