Mendoza is tucked at the foot of the prodigious Andes in a region furrowed by great riverbeds and mapped with vast plains and sparkling lakes. Mendocinos, spoiled with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, sum up their home as “land of sun and good wine,” a line from the region’s state song, “Hymn of the Grape Harvest.”
The award-winning vineyards of central-west Argentina can trace their roots to the 16th century, when Spanish colonialists began to travel and settle there.
Capture the essence of the region with a visit to the outlying vineyards and orchards. But don’t rush off. The area’s inns make for a perfect place to lay your head after a day and evening tasting the region’s most famous varietal, Malbec.
Though Malbec will be your go-to wine while in the area, don’t ignore its tasty local cousin. Torrontés, Argentina’s lesser known white wine, dates from the Spanish missionaries of the 1600s. The refreshing and highly aromatic varietal (with tropical fruit and honeysuckle flavors) is best sipped chilled and young.
Like the sunshine, the wine flows year-round. If you have a choice (and don’t mind crowds), visit in March for Vendimia, the month-long festival that celebrates the grape harvest.
After the Archbishop of Mendoza blesses the season’s first grapes with holy water, everybody takes to the streets to watch parades and get a glimpse of the beauty queens hoping to be named the year’s Harvest Queen.
Best of the Best: One Perfect Day
Though the Malbec may draw you to the province, its capital city, also named Mendoza, may put you in the mood for a move there. The city, with its wide, tree-lined boulevards, shaded plazas, and open-air cafés, has an inviting laid-back vibe.
Here’s our recommendations for how to spend the perfect day there:
- Stroll along the Sarmiento pedestrian mall while sipping a cortado (espresso cut with milk).
- Take a bike ride (or even hang glide) through Parque General San Martín.
- Don’t forget to stop by Plaza Independencia to buy handcrafted leather goods.
- Finish off your day with a wine tasting at The Vines Wine Bar & Vinoteca at the Park Hyatt Mendoza.
Planning: From Buenos Aires, the journey to Mendoza takes about 1.5 hours by air or 12-14 hours by bus.
This list is featured in National Geographic’s new coffee-table-worthy book, World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places.