Bubbly Tourist has a passion for wine and so does the northwestern province of Mendoza in Argentina making it a natural pair for the two of us. Located only two hours by flight from Buenos Aires, there are more than 1,500 wineries spread out through the three main wine regions of Lujan de Cuyo, Valle de Uco and Maipu attracting oenophiles from all over the world. Add the stunning backdrop of the Andes mountains and it is easy to see why this is such a compelling place to visit. Bubbly Tourist has ranked the top reasons Mendoza is a must-see region of Argentina...
1. Visit Mendoza Argentina wine country where world-class Malbec is made
The Province of Mendoza makes fantastic Malbec wine. Given that Mendoza is in the heart of Argentina's wine country, we couldn't help listing wine as the number one reason to visit Mendoza. After all, wine is what attracted Bubbly Tourist to this part of Argentina. According to Wine-Searcher.com (which Bubbly Tourist uses extensively), the Top Argentinian producers of Malbec include Catena Zapata, who arguably put the Mendoza expression of the grape on the map, Terrazas de los Andes, Trapiche and Achaval Ferrer among others. Bubbly Tourist visited numerous vineyards and would also add Salentein in the Uco Valley to this list. Each of these estates produces a top expression of Mendoza Malbec. We also toured Caro Bodega which is in partnership with Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) from France. They provided an excellent tasting experience which included a visit to their cellars and their beautiful art collection in their gallery.
2. Visit the city of Mendoza
The city of Mendoza is a cosmopolitan city known for its tree-lined streets, sunny climate, world-class restaurants (see reason #7 below), and of course Malbec wines. It is the capital of the Mendoza Province and sits within the Cuyo region. Since the city is centered within wine country, it makes an excellent home base as you travel and soak up the wines and outdoor splendors of the region. Bubbly Tourist recommends staying near the city center close to the Plaza Independencia. This highly residential area has plenty of accommodations, restaurants, shops and sights like the historic Banco Hipotecario Nacional building, the church Basilica San Francisco and of course the five Plazas de Independencia, de San Martin, de España, de Italia and de Chile which ooze of history and provide a pleasant resting place for the locals. Imagine the five dots of a die with Plaza Independencia as the center dot and the other four dots are the surrounding plazas. Take a 20 minutes stroll down Av. Aristides Villanueva from Plaza Italia to reach the Parque San Martin. A walk through the park is a relaxing way to unwind and also see where the rowing club likes to exercise. The Villanueva avenue also offers plenty of cute places to grab a bite to eat or drink on your way back. Looking for a delicious place to eat? Check out Anna Bistro on Av. Las Heras. It has a beautiful indoor / outdoor garden where one can enjoy the weather while indulging in some local fare with excellent wine and cocktails.
3. Indulge in some Argentine Bubbly
As you would expect, Bubbly Tourist found sparkling wine vineyards to visit! Cruzat has a beautiful location (see photo below) and makes excellent sparkling wine. Their bubbly is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and uses the traditional method of in-bottle second fermentation. We had an amazing tour of the winery which included a sample directly from the vat, followed by a tasting with a beautiful view of the Andes, and buying local merchandise and some sparkling. The tasting hostess even opened a bottle with a sabre. Fun, peaceful, educational and highly recommended! If you wish to have more bubbly, please try Baron B. It is an amazing bubbly made in Argentina and is in partnership with the French house, Chandon. Again, recommended!
4. Play in the Andes Mountains
The Andes form the border with Chile and are the lifeblood of Mendoza. With a series of intricate irrigation systems directly from the mountains, the Argentinians have ingeniously brought the water from the Andes to this naturally arid land to create an oasis of greenery that sustains this fertile region. Even in early Autumn some of the peaks within the Andes were snow capped when we visited. The highest peak of the Andes and of the Western Hemisphere is Mount Aconcagua at 22,831 feet (6,959 meters) in the northwest corner of Argentina. With these towering mountains come plenty of exciting outdoor activities: there are numerous trails for hikes, mountain bikes and climbs as well as white water rafting trips available.
5. Horseback ride in the Andes with a Gaucho
Bubbly Tourist took an action packed horseback tour up into the Andes mountains that finished back on the ranch eating gaucho grilled meat and vegetables. There is no better way to be on horseback than being lead by a true gaucho! These caballeros are the original cowboys that still herd the animals across the valleys and mountains today. To share in their stories and listen to their music is a true delight that makes these mountains that much more special. Click on the photo below to experience a little of our descent while listening to the gaucho on his harmonica. This tour through El Viejo Manzano is truly spectacular and highly recommended by Bubbly Tourist!
Bubbly Tourist Bon Voyage!