Before coming to Peru, I had never visited South America. Now, it feels like a whole new world has opened up to me and all I want to do is explore, eat new things, meet new people, and drink new wines.
My mom came to Peru to celebrate my 29th birthday in April and we decided to escape to Mendoza for 4 dedicated days of wine tasting. We accepted the challenge of spending our days drinking Argentinean Malbec wines and experiencing just a few of the 1,500 wineries that Mendoza has to offer. Our days were filled with breathtaking sceneries of grapevines in the foreground and snow capped mountains in the background and incredible lunches served with unlimited glasses of house wine. We discovered a great artisan market and filled the extra space in our suitcases with creative, handmade crafts. We enjoyed wonderful restaurants with curbside patios to sip coffee and eat sweet croissants in the morning. I fell in love with Mendoza, and have decided to put together this guide of our favorite way to explore Mendoza’s three main wine regions: Maipú, Lujan de Cuyo, and Uco Valley.
Day 1: Uco Valley
We began our first day of wine tasting in the Napa Valley of Argentina, Uco Valley. It is a high altitude, beautiful region that backs up to the Andes mountains. The wines were unbelievably good. The first day, we had reservations for 3 wineries (reservations are required for all wineries in Mendoza).
10 AM – DiamAndes: As we drove through big gates that announced “Clos de los Siete” and framed the white Andes mountains , all we could see were fields and fields of grapevines. We then saw a cluster of buildings and we drove on until we reached a modern and sophisticated building. We were the first to arrive at 10 AM, and we were greeted by a friendly guide who spoke with a fitting French accent. We took a tour of the high-tech facility and learned about the 7 french winemakers who bought a piece of land in Argentina and made plans to build 4 wineries, each focusing on a different element to create one single wine called Clos de los Siete. My favorite wine was the DiamAndes 2014 Malbec.
12 PM – Piedra Negra: Next, we ventured to Piedra Negra where we were greeted by a enthusiastic and knowledgable French woman who offered us a taste of Pinot Gris wine before beginning a tour of the facility. We stood on the balcony of a large colonial building, sipped on wine, and looked out into perhaps some of the most beautiful sceneries of the trip. Our tour began and we learned about the French winemakers who came to experiment with French style wines in Argentina. We then tasted four wines which included the Gran Lurton 2017, Malbec Reserve 2016, Gran Lurton 2013, and the Gran Malbec 2017. Our guide even gifted me a free bottle of Rosé for my birthday.
2 PM – La Azul: Last, we stopped for a 5 course lunch at the boutique winery, La Azul. We ate course after course of delicious and fresh Argentinean dishes perfectly paired with house wines, while sitting outside on a cute and colorful patio. On top of the 5 courses, they brought me a birthday flan cake and we left completely full and giddy from all of the great food and wine.
Day 2: Maipú
1 PM – El Enemigo: Day 2 was a “light” day after a Day 1 full of wine. Instead of going to mulitple wineries, we followed a recommendation given to us by a waiter at one of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants in Peru and we had a taxi drop us off at El Enemigo in Maipú. This was probably my favorite stop of the entire trip. We walked into El Enemigo and sat down at a table that had an olive tree perfectly shading our table for 2. The property was full of grape vines, olive trees, and tomato plants, which made a delicious starter for our 3 course meal accompanied with, you guessed it, unlimited wine. The olive oil was so fresh and delicious, that I even bought a bottle to bring back with me to Peru.
Day 3: Lujan de Cuyo
Lujan de Cuyo is where Argentina’s wine movement began and is known as the “Spiritual Home of the Malbec.” It is home to a large portion of Mendoza’s wineries, making it possible to visit multiple wineries in one day.
9:30 AM – Matervini: A boutique winery by one of Mendoza’s most esteemed winemakers Santiago Machaval. These were some of the best Malbecs we tried and THEY SHIP FREE TO THE US! During our tour, we were able to taste wines throughout their lifecycle and the tasting room felt like an artsy living room. We sat on a couch and discussed wines like we were old friends.
11:30 AM Benegas Winery: Benegas was a completely different kind of experience. The driver pulled off onto the side of the road and walked us to the door of a very unassuming building. We walked in and it was like we had been transported into medieval times. Everything was antique and traditional. After a quick tour, we were brought into an underground cellar that was lined in antique ponchos from the winemaker’s personal collection. We tried A LOT of wines. Our host opened bottle after bottle as our conversations and questions started flowing. The wines were so great and our host was so kind and gifted us a bottle that we had opened to try and had fallen in love with. We tried Malbec, Syrah, Meritage, Cabernet Franc, and even a mystery bottle labelled FBL.
1:30 PM – Lagarde: Our next stop was Lagarde, where we sat outside amongst the grapevines for a 6 course meal and wine pairings. Lagarde is considered Mendoza’s number 1 restaurant and it is not to be missed. The scenery, food, and wine combined to make an unforgettable experience.
4:30 PM – Tierras Altas: Because of the overly ambitious people we are, after lunch we went to winery number 4 of the day and got a science lesson in the chemistry of wine making. It was an interesting and informative tour, and we had the opportunity to try wines straight from the barrel.
1:00 PM – Vistalba: Our last day, we chose to have another wine lunch and tour, but this time at Vistalba. This was probably my favorite tour because they had an underground tasting room that allowed you to see the type of soil at the winery. We had a leisurely 3 course lunch paired with refreshing wines. My favorite was the Progenie Sparkling wine that was served with dessert. After lunch, we walked through the grapevines and olive trees and enjoyed the beautiful views.
Mendoza was a wine lovers dream and I hope to go back and explore even more of the wineries that are available. We chose to visit all boutique, smaller wineries but there are so many options from large scale production to the tiniest productions. I hope this is helpful as you plan your trip to Mendoza!