Mendoza is both a province in Western Argentina and the name of the capital city of that province. Much like Napa and Bordeaux are gateways to their respective wine regions, Mendoza city is the first stop for a trip through Argentine wine country. In the city, you’ll find plenty of wine tasting rooms, delicious restaurants and beautiful architecture, with the majestic Andes as your backdrop. Most visitors will want to venture outside the city limits to sip fruity malbecs in the thousands of surrounding vineyards. There are plentiful options for adventure tourism in the Mendoza region as well - from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to rafting, kayaking, fishing, paragliding and horseback riding in the warmer months.
US Travelers can visit Mendoza via international flights through either Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile. From Buenos Aires, the flight time is approximately 90 minutes, although it’s important to note that domestic and international flights operate out of different airports in BA, so if you plan to make the transfer the same day be sure to allow plenty of extra time. To avoid any stress, I’d suggest spending a night or two in the country’s capital before heading out to the wine region. Flying through Santiago is a bit easier and transfers can be made the same day. The flight time from Santiago is under an hour and features stunning views over the Andes, so be sure to book a window seat!
WHEN TO GO
As with most wine hot spots, the best time to visit is the growing season - from planting to harvest. In the Southern hemisphere, this means October through April. However, Mendoza’s climate is fairly temperate, and the area boasts over 320 sunny days per year, making it a year-round destination.
WHERE TO STAY
Cavas Wine Lodge - For a beautiful countryside option closer to the city, travel just 30 minutes south of Mendoza and check-in to this boutique Relais & Chateaux property set on a 55 acre vineyard. The main lodge is built in the Spanish colonial style and the 18 rooms, spread throughout the property, feature indoor/outdoor living at its best - including terraces with outdoor fireplaces and private plunge pools. As with all Relais & Chateaux, the culinary experience here is 5-star and the on-site restaurant won’t disappoint - the menu changes daily for dinner and features locally sourced ingredients.
Best option for foodies or for a shorter trip.
Source: Cavas Wine Lodge
Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort - 90 minutes southwest of the city, you’ll find this boutique property blending perfectly into the natural topography. With just 16 rooms and 3 villas, guests will find true privacy at this 790 acre estate in the Uco Valley. Trekking, cycling and horseback riding are all on offer, as well as relaxing in the floating pool or at the spa. But unsurprisingly, the real draw here is the wine. Guests are invited to experience sommelier-guided tastings featuring local Malbecs and special chef-led BBQ-dinners.
Perfect for boutique hotel lovers with an eye for design looking to relax and unwind in wine country.
Source: Casa de Uco
The Vines Resort & Spa - Just down the road from Casa de Uco, you’ll come across another intimate hotel, with 20 one and two-bedroom villas. The resort’s “Gauchos” curate every guests stay, acting as personal tour guides, concierges and sommeliers. This property really caters to the wine tourism of the region, with unique offerings: guests can learn the art of winemaking from a professional or even purchase their own small vineyard plot to make a custom small-batch wine.
A must for wine enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the wine culture of Mendoza.
Park Hyatt Mendoza - This five-star hotel is located in the central business district of the city of Mendoza and is just a quick 15 minute drive from the airport. The property has 186 rooms, several restaurants on site, as well as a casino and a spa.
Ideal for a first or last stop on your Mendoza itinerary.
WHAT TO DO
- Wine Tasting - Quite obviously, wine is king in this region. So whether you are wine tasting, learning about wine making, or getting tips from a sommelier, you’re going to be enjoying the fruits from the vine. Depending on where you’re staying there will be dozens, if not hundreds, of wineries nearby so I’d refer to your hotel concierge for recommendations on which to visit. Or check out this list of top wineries in the region to plan your accommodation accordingly. I suggest getting a driver so you can fully enjoy the wine, or better yet, rent a bike for easy vineyard hopping.
Source: Cavas Wine Lodge
- Horseback Riding - A popular activity across all of Argentina, horseback riding is particularly picturesque in this area. You’ll be surrounded by verdant vineyards and the jaw dropping Andes mountains. A specialty in this region is a sunset ride - perfect to stroll right into happy hour. (Don’t forget your La Matera Mendoza belt!)
Source: Casa de Uco
- Soaking in the Cacheuta Thermal Baths - These hot springs are a popular day trip in Mendoza, located approximately 1 hour outside the city. If you’re without a car, there are regular buses that operate from the city center. You can choose whether you want to visit the private Hotel and Spa Termas de Cacheuta or the public Parque de Agua. The latter is frequented by locals and admission is less expensive, while the former is more luxurious and spa-centric.
Source: Termas Cachueta
- Hiking in Parque Provincial Aconcagua - Just 2 hours from Mendoza city, you’ll find Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America and one of the iconic 7 summits on the short list of elite mountain climbers worldwide. While Aconcagua is not technically difficult to climb, at 22,837 feet the round-trip trek can take on average 3 weeks to complete and is recommended only for very physically fit individuals. For a more moderate option, hikers can take a full day trek to Aconcagua Base Camp to glimpse the summit, or opt for some of the shorter trails nearby.
- Paragliding - While the area offers many adventure sports to choose from, paragliding is one of the more signature options for Mendoza, given the dry climate. Several tour operators offer half day excursions from Mendoza city, driving to a nearby mountain for take-off.
WHY I LOVE IT
Argentina is known for its red wine, particularly the Malbec, so why not head to the heart of it all? The region has stunning scenery, incredible luxury hotels to choose from, and no shortage of delicious wine. But beyond that, I love that there are so many options for adventure, making Mendoza a perfect getaway for wine lovers and couples, but also for families and outdoor enthusiasts.