Argentina is famous for its wine and the heart of wine country in Argentina is Mendoza, a region that produces 70 percent of the country’s supply. Mendoza is a semi-arid desert and yet it’s thriving vineyards place Argentina as the 5th largest producer of wines in the world.
Perhaps known best for producing rich malbec wines, the region is home to more than 120 public wineries. With so many vineyards to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s where Uncorking Argentina steps in.
Founded in 2001, the company crafts custom itineraries for visitors, setting up appointments at local wineries and then taking them there with a professional driver in a private car.
“Our idea is to create experiences where our clients can feel a connection with the wineries and their owners,” said Luján Castiglione, logistics manager. “We start building the tours from the very beginning with our clients. Whatever types of experiences they want to have here, we mold them from scratch.”
Daniel Diaz Opazo, administration and finance manager, is proof of the company’s power. Though he grew up in the area, he never had much of a connection to wine until visiting a winery with Carolyn Gallagher, the company’s founder.
“I had never been in contact much with the wines,” said Daniel. “Then when I started to work here I really fell in love with this industry. It means so much to me to prepare the happiness that people will have when they come here and [tour] wineries. You can really feel it,” he added.
While three to four days are really recommended to get a sense of the region, here’s a look at three classic wineries you can visit in a day with Uncorking Argentina. Be sure to sample a glass (or bottle) of the all-star wines from each property listed below.
Tall adobe walls stretch high overhead and soft lamplight illuminates dark oak cabinets filled with wine at this historical winery that dates back to the 1800’s. It’s one of the closest wineries to Mendoza’s city center.
“Bodega Benegas has a great history, architecture and wine combination,” said Ramiro Araya, hospitality manager. “We do things you don’t find in many other wineries.
The tasting room is in a stone wine cellar with a rich ambiance.
All-star offering: Cabernet Franc 2006
Ten years old, this cabernet franc was aged seven years before being released, allowing for the flavors to be balanced. The wine was produced using a different method than is used for most similar types – the grapes were picked late in the season resulting in a smooth flavor that is peppery and fruity.
Domaine St. Diego
Angel Mendoza, a famous wine maker in the region who spent more than 25 years with Trapiche, opened his own winery that remains family run. Visitors get to meet his daughter Maria Laura, who runs tours and does graphic design for the winery’s bottles. At Domaine St. Diego they believe all varieties of wine have a purpose.
“The best wine doesn’t exist,” said Laura. “We don’t consider that one wine is better than the other. Every wine has its own moment when it is best to be enjoyed.”
The family’s passion for wine, and the earth is highly evident. Here you can see the process of growing the grapes by walking through their sprawling vineyards and learn about the painstaking detail that goes into cultivating such high quality grapes.
All-star wine: Paradigma 2011
A rare wine that uses the patricia grape, paradigma is also unique because it has not been aged in an oak barrel. Angel did this to prove that the fruit by itself is strong enough to make wines and create a paradigm shift in the business. The floral and fruity wine is refreshing and best enjoyed in a moment of celebration.
When it comes to a high-end wine tasting experience, you can’t do much better than Finca Agostino, home to 754 acres of pristine vineyards in the Maipu region. Opened in 2005, the winery is the creation of four brothers who long dreamed of operating vineyards in the region. An impressive 16 variations of grapes are grown here.
From the irrigation system that waters the fields, to the industrial processing system, to the technologically advanced cellar for wine storage to the wine pairing lunch at the elegant restaurant, to the on-site art gallery, truly no detail is left untouched. To top things off, tours are lead by the Queen of Maipu, Mariana Encina, herself.
“Cooking classes are offered at Finca Agostino every day,” said Mariana. “You can also ride a bike through the vineyards to a mirador.”
All-star wine: Agostino Familia Tinto, 2011
This wine is blended using four grapes, representing the four siblings who own the winery. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 16 months and then cellared in the bottle for six months. The grape varieties are known for each having a strong expression.
For more information about touring the wineries of Mendoza with Uncorking Argentina or to create your own custom itinerary, visit Uncorking Argentina.
About the Author
Lauren Salisbury is the founder of Something In Her Ramblings, a travel blog aimed at inspiring women solo travelers to travel the world, even if it means going solo. After living abroad for several years in Spain and Costa Rica, Lauren now lives in Los Angeles. She has been to 43 countries (and counting).
Note: Uncorking Argentina graciously hosted me on a complimentary, one-day tour of wineries. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.