Mendoza can be divided in three wine-making regions: Maipú, Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco. The latter is said to produce the best wines on the most beautiful grounds, with snowcapped Andes peaks towering out over the vineyards. We visited four wineries in Mendoza and came to the same conclusion.
Driving into Mendoza from San Juan, the first region we passed through was Maipú. This is the most accessible region, closest to the city of Mendoza. The wineries are spread out over the town of Maipú, so no secluded Andes views here. Slightly overwhelmed by the number of choices, we picked up a map from the tourist information center. We ended up visiting two wineries in Maipú.
Viña El Cerno
Our first stop was a small family-owned winery. The welcoming sign set the tone for an excellent tour and tasting.
Viña el Cerno specializes in organic wines. They let nature do its thing, without adding any chemicals. The family is very passionate about sharing their story on a tour of the cellars. All the wines that we tasted were good, but the premium line Filósofos really stood out. We liked it so much that we took a bottle across the Atlantic.
Make sure to stop at Viña el Cerno for an intimate experience, back to the basics of wine-making.
Bodega Mevi is located right down the street from Viña del Cerno. It’s a much more commercialized winery, with an on-site restaurant. We did a tour and tasting before enjoying lunch on the elevated terrace. The views impressed more than the wines.
I would recommend Bodega Mevi for a relaxed lunch with a bottle of rosé. The sofas on the back patio allow for great lounging, but the wines are nothing to write home about.
Valle de Uco
We continued our journey south to Valle de Uco. Located at 1100 meters above sea level, this is Malbec heaven. In addition to its premium wines, Valle de Uco boasts the best views of the Andes.
Finca La Celia
During our visit to Mendoza, we stayed in Posada La Celia. This beautiful country house is located on the grounds of Finca La Celia. Guests can freely explore the vineyards. The setting against the backdrop of the Andes is simply stunning.
Posada La Celia offers four-course regional and gourmet meals, accompanied by La Celia wines. We spent two days feasting on delicious food and wine. Non-guests can enjoy a wine tasting paired with cheeses at Finca La Celia.
A 45-minute drive through the countryside brought us to Bodega Salentein. This winery is not just about wine. Bodega Salentein bundles food, wine and art in an ultra-modern package.
Wine tastings are done inside the cellars. The path leading up to the cellars cuts right through the vineyards, offering splendid views along the way. The tasting was very professional, except for the fact that we could actually drink the wines. Luckily, because they were too delicious to spit out.
A break from Malbec
After admiring the Andes’ snowcapped peaks from afar, we were ready to get up close. We hit the road for a day trip to Aconcagua Provincial Park. With its 6960 meters, the Aconcaqua is the highest mountain in the Southern and Western hemisphere. The park is located on the Uspallata Pass, which connects Mendoza with Santiago in Chile. The drive comes with spectacular views and several worthy stops along the way.
The lake of Potrerillos appears on the horizon like a fata morgana.
We ordered food to-go in the sleepy town of Uspallata. Nothing beats a crispy milanesa sandwich for lunch.
Puente del Inca is a natural arch over the Las Cuevas river. Nearby hot springs give the bridge its unique colors through mineral deposits. The bridge and hot springs were used by the Incas, hence the name.
The entrance of Parque Aconcaqua is not even halfway up its peak, at 2700 meters above sea level. We hiked the easy trail to Laguna de Horcones. The Aconcaqua’s snow-covered peak never goes out of sight on this short but rewarding trail.
The drive to Parque Provincial Aconcaqua takes five hours round-trip from Mendoza. Don’t be discouraged by the time on the road; the stunning panoramas along the way make it worth every mile.