As the birthplace of Malbec wine in it’s Uco Valley, the city of Mendoza lies in Argentina’s Cuyo Region, 1050km from the capital Buenos Aires. The area of Greater Mendoza is Latin America’s largest wine producer as well as being labelled as one of the world’s 9 Great Wine Capitals. With several museums, historical buildings and preserved nature grounds, it comes as no surprise that in 2008, National Geographic listed Mendoza as one of the ‘Top 10 Historic Destinations in the World’.
Through a region of green hills, infinite number of vineyards and the snowcapped Andes mountains, runs the Ruta Nacional 7, the only route connecting Argentina to Chile. 340km from the city centre, Santiago de Chile is only a 4-hour drive through the windy mountain roads making it the number 1 holiday destination for Argentinians during the Easter break of Semana Santa.
Amongst the leafy avenues, breathtaking landscapes and mouthwatering diners, this Argentinian wine region attracts both nature lovers and thrill seekers alike. Horse riding through the rocky hills, rafting between the border of Argentina and Chile and skiing across the Andes Mountains are only a few of many activities which Mendoza has to offer. For the less sporty and more traditional, options vary from wine baths and grape seed exfoliation spa packages to vineyard tours and olive oil tasting courses. It is safe to say that Mendoza has something suitable for each and every hobby, interest and lifestyle.
- Gran Hotel Potrerillos: A beautiful building standing on acres of green land surrounded by Lago Potrerillos which is a short distance to the Chilean border. A wonderful spot to drive to with a scenic journey of the Andes mountains on one side and large canyons on the other. Get comfortable along the outdoor seating area of the Gran Hotel and sip on a cup of hot coffee in-between the vineyards whilst staring across over the deep blue lake. Don’t forget to walk around and through the grapevines to capture the perfect snapshot.
- Tea and Company: An organic health food café, restaurant and tea house. Alongside the home-made meals, freshly squeezed fruit juices an infinite option of herbal infusions, this dining spot has a wide variety of breads and biscuits from their bakery, including a chia seed, walnut and orange vegan muffin. Dishes include oriental woks, sandwiches, hot meals and salads. No meal is specifically vegan but there are many veggie options. It is very simple to adapt any vegetarian dish into a vegan one. The inside is decorated with a rustic yet boheme design making it the perfect spot to grab lunch and spend the day studying or working with a laptop. Before you leave, don’t forget to check out the teapots and other hot beverage related ceramics on sale.
Let’s get physical…
- Argentina Rafting: A very professional and well-organised company located between the mountains in Potrerillos. Activities include rafting, horse riding, zip lining, skydiving, canoeing, kayaking and many more. Knowledgeable staff who are willing to help with any queries. An amazing experience for first-timers and experts alike. All activities begin in different locations which buses are provided for. The main office also includes a café/restaurant with outdoor seating and a decking area, a gift shop, changing rooms and a large area where the relevant equipment is distributed.
- Domain Bousquet: Known as one of the world’s leading organic wine producers, Bodega Domain Bousquet goes further than it’s production of the alcoholic beverage and extends it’s wings to the culinary side. A mouthwatering three-course lunch served at their famous French Bistro, Gaia, is certainly not one to miss. The succulent food served by young chef Adrian Baggio is highly worthy of a Michelin star. Consisting of a fresh orange and mixed nut salad as a starter, sweetcorn, roasted cherry tomato and mixed grilled vegetable fettuccine pasta as a main course and grilled banana served with figs, pears and almonds for dessert, this vegan set menu is every herbivores dream. Vegan or non-vegan, all meals are served with a different glass of wine recommended to suit the palette of flavours in front of you. Side effects of this set menu include drunkenness and unexpected daydreaming of the meals consumed. Be aware that you will be carrying the taste of each and every bite with you for the next few days or years, and you will never ever forget the best vegan menu in the world.
- Rosell Boher Lodge: Located amongst the vineyards of Luján de Cuyo, approximately 4km from the main roads this lodge not only consists of private deluxe suites and wine houses with hot-tubs, but also has a very professional kitchen to provide both guests and non-guests with a flavoursome dining experience. Although they do not have a set menu like Domain Bousquet, the chefs are willing to do whatever it takes to cater for each individual’s dietary requirements. Vegan options are prepared dependant on the chefs imagination which adds that element of surprise, one which cannot be found on the carnivorous menu. Be sure to make a reservation in advance and to advise the kitchen so that they can purchase any necessary products, such as specific vegetables or coconut milk, to complete this flawless feast. Lunch and dinner menus may include a vegetable and wholegrain rice wok or stuffed aubergine and sun-dried tomato rolls later served with a refreshing and light grapefruit granita to complete the meal.
- Bodega Andeluna: A modern yet rustic winery located on the renowned green lands of the Uco Valley. Tour the wine cellar and vineyards before sitting down to a session of wine tasting in front of the snow covered Andes. All wines sampled are from the grounds of the bodega varying from the dark, red berry Malbec to the light and tangy Cabernet Sauvignon. Expect to be amazed by both the knowledge and enthusiasm which the staff hold, as well as the beauty of the interiors and exteriors of the winery alike. Be sure to purchase a bottle or five of Andeluna‘s refreshing wines, including their very own special edition, naturally sweet dessert wine to accompany a rich meal. One of the best places to experience the stereotypically picturesque scenes of Mendoza.
- Bodega Zuccardi: “From the very beginning we focused on the achievement of four goals: producing the highest quality wines, keeping a constant innovation capacity, working in full harmony with the environment and being useful to the community we live in”. Founded in 1963 by Engineer Alberto Zuccardi, this successful company has now stood on it’s ground for the past three generations. The family run winery is made up of five estates across the region of Mendoza; La Consulta, Vista Flores, Altamira, Santa Rosa and Maipú. With a large range of bottled wines from three lines; Zuccardi, Santa Julia and Malamado (available for wine-tasting and purchasing), it comes as no surprise that Bodega Zuccardi is the proud owner of titles such as ‘Business Excellence of the Year’ and ‘Most Innovative Agri-food Exportation’. In addition to it’s spacious winery, you can also plan a visit to the “Casa de Visitante” which serves as the bodega‘s hub of art, gastronomy, tourism and culture.
- Bodega Salentein: The first Argentine winery that combines wine, art, cuisine and pleasure; the perfect phrase to summarise this winery, as described by the Bodega Salentein website itself. The winery includes a wine cellar built 8 metres underground and home to 5,000 barrels of wine, a tasting room and a Primus room to show off the bodega‘s special edition reserve wines. Don’t forget to buy a few bottles from the wine and gift store on your way out (but remember the limit for national flights is five litres/6 bottles per person, and each international flight has it’s own laws, just be sure to check before you purchase and travel. Worst case scenario, you down them at the check-in desk). With more than 121 acres (49 hectares) of land located directly parallel to the Andes mountains, this well-constructed winery invites both wine and art lovers alike to discover it’s hidden secrets. Only a three-minute walk down the pebbled path through the vineyards, Bodega Salentein‘s art gallery is the point in which skill, creativity and nature merge together. Established as an environmentally respectful cultural space, Kilka is home to a grand Argentine and Dutch contemporary art collection from the 19th and 20th century, but that’s not all. This architectural haven also has it’s own Gratitude Chapel located a short walk north of it’s driveway where bodega ceremonies and open air masses are held.
It’s time to un-‘wine’…
Parque de Agua Termas Cacheutas: A resort hotel built amongst the mountains of Mendoza, with close proximity to the city centre and beside the renowned Lake Potrerillos, Termas Cacheutas opens it doors to guests wishing to experience the relaxing natural therms of the Mendozian mountains. Apart from the natural outdoors spa, this complex also consists of an indoor spa with massage services, a water park with slides and other mountain-related activities, as well as a restaurant in which local delicacies are served during lunch and dinner times. For those who are not guests of the hotel, full and half-day packages are available. These include a pass to the natural therms and a meal which can be enjoyed with a spectacular view of the surrounding nature. It is recommended to book the day passes at least two days in advance due to their limited capacity.