As some of you know, we ventured out to Mendoza, Argentina this past March to celebrate my birthday. And my friends: it did not disappoint.
ICYMI: Mendoza is a province in Argentina that is home to 75% of the country’s vineyards. Mendoza is home to over a thousand wineries, and it is pretty much heaven on earth for any wine lover. Malbec is the most celebrated grape in Mendoza and it just so happens to be my favorite varietal — so we knew we had to plan a visit.
Wine tasting in Argentina is a bit different than going wine tasting in the states, so I’m going to break down how we planned our trip, what wineries we visited, and what a typical day of wine tasting looks like in Mendoza.
Wine Tasting in Mendoza Travel Guide
When to Visit Mendoza
Really, any time of year is excellent to visit Mendoza, but their peak season is from October-April (from planting until harvest). We visited in early March, about a week before harvest, and enjoyed some gorgeous views of the vineyards, enjoyed some Harvest Festival events in Downtown Mendoza, and we even had some tours at the wineries that let us pick the fruit off the vines and taste them.
January and February are the hottest months of the year (temps in the 90s), and it cools down a bit in March. They have mild winters, so even if you plan a visit during the off season, you’ll still have relatively good weather and plenty of sunshine.
Transportation: How to Get to Mendoza Wineries
- Hire a Private Driver. We hired a private driver for the first three days of wine tasting, and we had a fantastic experience. We went with Mauricio (you can book him here!), and I would highly recommend him and his group! We had no idea what wineries to visit, so we told him to surprise us. He asked us a few questions about our wine tasting preferences and crafted the perfect itinerary for us! It’s so much easier to have a driver or tour group call and make reservations on your behalf, IMO.
- Join a Tour Group. We opted for a (small!) tour group on our fourth day of wine tasting and also had a great time. Another American couple joined us on our tour, and it was a great way to make new friends and make the experience a bit more lively. Felipe did a fantastic job and brought us to some fantastic boutique wineries!
- Do a Bike Tour. I’m pretty terrible at bike riding, so we didn’t go for this option, but you can bike to some of the wineries in the Maipu region. Rent a bike at either Maipu Bikes or Mr. Hugo Bikes, ask for a winery bike path, and venture out to some incredible wineries.
- Rent a Car. We had a free day at the end of our trip and decided to rent a car and visit a few more wineries. Navigating was interesting, to say the least: we had to rent a GPS as well because our hotspot didn’t work in some of the more rural areas we drove through. This also means that one of you has to be a DD. Renting a car was my least favorite form of transportation to the wineries, but if you feel comfortable driving and navigating through foreign countries, then go for it.
Mendoza’s Three Wine Regions (& Our Favorite Wineries in Each)
- Maipu: The Maipu region was my least favorite IMO, but it is the closest to downtown Mendoza. These are the wineries you would be able to bike to from the city! Maipu is home to Alta Vista, which was the largest, most touristy winery we ended up visiting — to be honest, we preferred the boutique wineries, but Alta Vista had a great selection and a beautiful property!
- Lujan de Cuyo: Lujan de Cuyo was stunning, and had a lot to offer in terms of wine tasting. This is the region we ended up touring the most. Some of our favorite wineries in this area include Finca Lamadrid, Trez Wines, and Bodega Piattellii.
- Uco Valley: Hands down, this was my favorite region to go wine tasting in! The Uco Valley is in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, and you’ll enjoy some of the most stunning views while you taste some of the finest wines in the world. This region is the farthest from downtown Mendoza, so you’ll need to plan for extra travel time here. Some of my favorite wineries out in the Uco Valley include Solocontigo, Bodega Budeguer, Bodega la Azul, and Laureano Gomez,
How to Book Your Wine Tasting Experience: Things to Know
- How Many Wineries Per Day? This number depends on a few factors, but I would aim to visit 3-4 wineries per day. If you’re staying in Downtown Mendoza, you could reasonably visit four wineries/day in Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo, and three wineries/day in the Uco Valley. We visited five wineries on our first day, but that was mainly because it was my birthday. I wouldn’t recommend aiming for that number, though!
- Do You Need Reservations? YES. Don’t count on being able to walk into a winery. All of the drivers we used made the reservations for us, which was super helpful, but when we drove out on our own and had to make reservations ourselves, it was somewhat tricky. If you’re attempting to book any reservations by yourself, give the wineries as much notice as possible (I’d say 2-3 weeks in advance would be ideal!)
- The Lunches: One thing that stood out during our time wine tasting in Mendoza were the lunches at the wineries. You’ll want to end your day with a late lunch at a winery: typically, they’ll serve you a 4-5 course meal with a wine pairing for each course. Needless to say, you’ll be pretty exhausted after lunch, and will want to go home and take a siesta afterward! That’s why it’s best to end your day with lunch, rather than stick it in the middle of your itinerary.
I’d highly recommend visiting the Uco Valley out of all three regions. An ideal itinerary:
- 9:00 AM: Driver picks you up from Downtown Mendoza
- 10:30 AM: Arrive at your first winery – Bodega Budeguer.
- 12:00 PM: Arrive at your second winery – Solocontigo.
- 2:00 PM: Lunch at Laureano Gomez (no tour)
- 4:00 PM: Head back to Downtown Mendoza
When planning out your trip, make sure you give yourself two hours for lunch. Service is usually a bit slower in Mendoza — soak it up and enjoy the great food, wine and views!
Boutique Wineries to Visit
We preferred visiting the smaller, family-owned wineries rather than some of the massive vineyards in the region. Some boutique wineries that should be on your radar include Laureano Gomez, CarineE, and Cepas Elegidas Wines.
Cepas Elegidas was the last winery we visited (and the absolute smallest!), but it blew our minds. The winemaker was an American expat who was very innovative and loved to break all the wine rules (in the best way possible!)