The seasons are reversed down south of the equator so it's best to visit Mendoza between November and April when high temps make for beautiful days outdoors. Have fun hopping from vineyard to vineyard. When you're done, check out the rustic Cavas Wine Lodge where the Malbec isn't just for drinking. They also provide wine-infused spa treatments so you can truly unwind in one of their cozy cabins after a long day of tasting.
WHERE TO STAY
Cavas Wine Lodge
This rustically romantic luxury resort is in the suburb of Lujan de Cuyo, near some of the region’s most famous vineyards. Book a wine-themed spa treatment after a long day of tasting, and unwind in one of the estate’s cozy adobe-style cabins.
Park Hyatt Mendoza
The city’s finest flagship, in a recently-restored 19th Century mansion overlooking the central Plaza Independencia.
Posada de Rosas
For a more low-key, familial environment, this bed and breakfast has a gorgeous garden, and (if you’re lucky) the ex-pat American owners will whip you up a spontaneous pasta dinner, accompanied by a bottle from their personal stash of fine local Malbec.
WHERE TO EAT
At this high-end steak house you can visit the on-site wine cellar and select your own bottle to pair with some of the country’s finest—and most creative—contemporary cuisine.
An intimate, artsy setting, with a seasonal menu and live music. A downtown favorite for locals as well.
1884 Francis Mallmann
It’s outside town, on the grounds of the Bodega Escorihuela, but worth the trip, especially if you can snag a coveted table in the garden and let the romance begin. 1884 is also one of the world’s highest ranked restaurants, so the food isn’t half bad either; if you’re particularly adventurous, try the chivito (baby goat).
VINEYARDS TO VISIT
Most vineyards are anywhere from a 30 to 90 minute drive outside the city and require reservations for tours and tastings. Arrange an itinerary and driver in advance. The Vines of Mendoza (www.vinesofmendoza.com, 011-54-261-438-1031) can recommend reputable tour companies, or in some cases make the arrangements for you.
Located in the Valle de Uco, O Fournier’s sleek, almost space-age design is offset by stunning vistas of the surrounding Andes. The post-modern theme continues inside as automatic sliding doors dramatically beckon visitors to enter the cavernous steel-beamed wine cellar, which also doubles as a contemporary art gallery.
One of Argentina’s most recognizable—and most exported—brands, Norton operates from a lushly-landscaped, estancia-style compound. Visitors are greeted at the entrance with a glass of the winery’s signature sparkling, and after an afternoon spent sipping in the gardens can browse bottles from Norton’s Classic, Reserve or Private Label lines in the extensive gift shop.
A more informal boutique winery that hand-picks just a fraction of each year’s harvest to produce extremely small quantities of extremely fine wine. A tasting at Azul is by no means grand, but wine straight from the barrel has never tasted so good.