If you are considering a trip to South America and you are a wine enthusiast, then you should know that Argentina is among the best wine producers in the world. Argentina’s combination of culture and terroir contributes to the country’s production of some of the most unique wines across the globe.
Until recently, the vineyards and the area cultivated with the best wines in Argentina were concentrated in the regions of Mendoza and San Juan. Nowadays, there are wine producers in 19 provinces, almost the entire territory of Argentina; many of which offer top wine quality.
There are 223,585 hectares cultivated with vineyards: Malbec, Cherry, Bonarda, Criolla Grande, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pedro Giménez, which represents 3% of the world surface and positions Argentina in fifth place as a wine producer in the world ranking.
Argentina currently exports wine to 127 countries, with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, and the Netherlands being its largest importers.
Lately, many wine producers and family-owned wineries have combined their love for wine with travel, offering visits to their wineries, top wine lodges, and wine tours that include fun activities such as biking among the vineyards, being a sommelier for a day or cooking lessons. Of course, the main goal is to learn about wine production in Argentina, all among acres of vineyards, facing the Andes-mountain ranges, and always offering the best weather with sunny days.
Mendoza has become the best place to visit for wine enthusiasts from around the world. This is a must-visit place that can be perfect for foodie travelers, honeymooners, and even families looking for great places to enjoy wine while traveling among top wineries.
How to explore the Wine Route in Argentina?
You will probably start in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina from where you can take a domestic flight to Mendoza for about an hour and 50-minute.
The best way to explore the wineries in Argentina is by doing it in a private vehicle with a driver. It is very important to book your visits and wine tastings or activities (cooking lessons, horseback ride, biking, picnics, lunches) in advance, especially during high or peak season. Some of the wineries we like the most are very small and do not take walk-ins.
Six wineries we love, located in Mendoza, Argentina´s largest wine region.
#1 Zuccardi Valle de Uco
The Zuccardi family has been producing wines in Argentina since 1963, and today from their vineyards and olive groves located in different areas of Mendoza, Zuccardi is recognized locally and internationally for the production of great wines and olive oils, which reach more than 60 countries on five continents.
Zuccardi Valle de Uco has topped the World’s Best Vineyards list three times in a row, and in 2022, Zuccardi’s family has been inducted into the World’s Best Vineyard’s Hall of Fame, formed by all the vineyards that have topped the annual poll of The World’s Best Vineyards, which are no longer eligible to be voted on new editions of the list
The Zuccardi Winery has a hospitality area made up of two visitor centers and three restaurants located in Bodega Santa Julia, Bodega Zuccardi Valle de Uco, and the Zuelo oil mill.
The “Piedra Infinita” restaurant opened its doors in March 2016. Located in Valle de Uco, facing the majestic Andes Mountain Range, it offers great cuisine in a unique environment. Visitors can enjoy the many spaces of the winery and live the experience of walking among the vineyards, discovering the characteristics and particularities of the different soils that give the identity of Zuccardi’s wines.
#2 Catena Zapata
“Nicolás Catena Zapata is justly credited with putting Argentinean wines on the world map—by the best expedient of focusing entirely on quality. It’s great to know he has started a wine dynasty, too.” Jancis Robinson, Financial Times wine journalist.
The story of Catena is the story of Argentine wine. Founded in 1902, Nicolás’ grandfather Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza. Sailing from Italy to Argentina in 1898, and leaving behind his famine-stricken European homeland for a land of plenty and opportunity. In the gin-clear air and rolling hills of Mendoza, Argentina, he firmly believed he had found the promised land. In 1902, Nicola planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza.
Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata is known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec and in discovering extreme high-altitude terrains of the Andean foothills of Mendoza, getting 9th place on the list for the best world vineyards in 2022.
#3 Bodegas El Enemigo, Casa Vigil
Alejandro Vigil was recruited by Nicolás Catena to lead the winery’s research team. He has been the Chief Winemaker of Bodega Catena Zapata for the last 16 years. “Casa Vigil, the divine winery” is the personal project of Alejandro Vigil, who welcomes us and shows us his land and winery. Alejandro has the highest rating ever given to a pure Cabernet Franc wine by Robert Parker The Wine Advocate, awarded to El Gran Enemigo Cabernet Franc of Gualtallary, Mendoza.
#4 Susana Balbo
Susana Balbo Wines is a winery dedicated to the production of high-end wines. It offers the possibility of discovering both the typical varietals of Argentina and innovative signature wines. Susana’s Signature wines capture her ultimate expression as a winemaker – creating bold wines with an artistic finesse that you never tire of drinking.
In 1981 Susana received her degree in enology and became the first woman in Argentina to do so. Her career started in Cafayate, Salta province at Michel Torino winery where she was in charge of developing and stylizing the Torrontes varietal. Afterward, she worked at many well-regarded wineries such as Martins and Catena Zapata.
In 1999, after working for more than 20 years as a consultant winemaker for national and international wine companies, Susana decided to have her dream come true and started to build Susana Balbo Wines in the heart of Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza.
What we love about Susana Balbo is that it offers us an experience based on interaction and entertainment. The winery invites you to play, and try and discover the challenge of an oenologist: creating by combining different varietals resulting in a work of art, and your own blended wine.
Altavista Winery is owned by a French family with extensive wine traditions not only in Argentina but in France and other parts of the world. This winery offers a fusion of French taste with the combination of Argentine culture and passionate style.
The historic winery is set in a beautiful and tranquil setting built in historic Argentine-Spanish architecture. The building was restored, and today you can enjoy modern winemaking and technology in a unique place that offers a piece of Europe in South America.
You can learn about the wine-making process including wine tasting of different varieties; then enjoy a deli picnic in the gardens.
#6 Kaiken Winery
The Caiquén is a wild goose from Patagonia that flies across The Andes between Argentina and Chile. By embarking on this cross-border flight the Caiquén takes up a major challenge.
Just like the Caiquén, Aurelio Montes, founder of the Chilean winery Bodega Montes, made several trips across the Andes until in 2000 he rediscovered Mendoza as a generous land filled with superb vines and hardworking people. In 2001 he realized Mendoza was the perfect place to make Kaikén Wines, wines that embody everything a great wine ought to be.
Kaiken offers premium, unique and elegant wines inspired by the passion and sensuality of Argentina with a bold twist, a celebration of friendship, love, a reunion of sorts. There is a special concern for the care of the environment and Kaiken promotes a sustainable culture in all stages of the process of making their wines, so that their footprint on earth is “a real contribution of conservation and permanent care”.
You can find in the winery the newest gastronomic experience of world-famous chef Francis Mallmann, the “Ramos Generales” restaurant directing us to a unique and relaxed cuisine where guests can be in close contact with nature and in the company of the best wines from Kaiken. You can also taste Disobedience by Chef Mallmann, a wine that represents the fusion of “being complex and simple at the same time.”
Where are the best hotels to stay in the Wine route Argentina?
Argentina offers the best wine lodges in South America. You will fall in love with these wine lodges in Mendoza and Salta when you stay at these cool and quirky accommodations. With superb vineyards, amazing food, and an eye for sustainability, these properties offer the most romantic wine experiences in South America.
Our Top 3 Boutique and Luxury Wine hotels in Argentina:
Only have one week in Argentina?
If you have just one week in Argentina then you could start by visiting the capital city Buenos Aires, and then head to the Province of Mendoza. Focus on the valleys of Cuyo and Luján area, and if you want to travel a bit further you can also visit Uco Valley.
It’s important to pick the wineries you want to visit and ideally book your visit in advance.
The selection of your wine lodge in Mendoza is really important if you want to stay around wineries. Define your budget and pick the nicest option from the suggestions I shared! And finally, do not forget that if you want to enjoy a meal in one of the top restaurants in Mendoza – and Buenos Aires, you must book a table in advance.
My personal recommendation: Most of the wineries mentioned here require reservations in advance. Some of them have great restaurants, and some others have lodges or estancias to stay among vineyards. However, it is really important to book with as much anticipation as possible.
Make sure that you contact the wineries before showing up as most of the best wineries do not take walk-ins. Some have tourism areas well organized, but not all of them.
If you are interested in a Custom trip to the Wine Route, and would like to work with my team, get in touch, and let’s start planning together!