Mendoza Wine Tours…Exploring Argentina’s Wine Country

April 9, 2017

Sometimes I make great life choices.  In fact, in general when @sjems5 and I plan our annual girls’ trip, we historically have made some of the best life choices known to man.  And the two days of Mendoza wine tours we did in Argentina possibly rank at the top of the list.

Our week in Argentina featured a day exploring the awe-inspiring beauty of the Iguazu Falls, followed by four days in Mendoza drinking wine and heading up into the Andes, and then a day in Buenos Aires.  The two days of winery tours also featured, hands down, two of the best meals I’ve had in my entire life.  So while the breadth and quality of Argentina’s wine was the focus of the tour, this post is also food porn at its finest.

Dive deeper into the different places we visited!

The Ultimate 7-Day Argentina Itinerary

How to Plan the Best Trip to Argentina’s Iguazu Falls

A Day in the Andes of Mendoza

Less Than 24 Hours in Buenos Aires

A little about Argentina’s wine

If you’d told someone 50 years ago that Argentina (and Mendoza) wine tours would be a major draw, people would have called you crazy.  Today, Malbec is the most famous variety of wine from Argentina.  Did you know that even a few decades ago Malbec was considered basically a crap wine?

But then they realized that the Malbec grape (originally from France and basically dead there) thrived in Argentina’s climate and terroir, and also drastically modernized the wineries to produce much better wine, and it became an international hit.  Besides Malbec, other reds you’ll see a lot of are Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvingnon, Syrah, Merlot, and Tempranillo.

For whites, Torrontes is the biggest white that Argentina is known for, and really does well there.  Besides that you’ll see quite a bit of Chardonnay (or “chardonn-no”, to me), but then there are a ton of other varieties in much smaller quantities.

Day 1:  Lujan de Cuyo region

Wineries visited:  Alta Vista, Susanna Balbo, Benegas, Casarena

After doing a ton of research, we booked with Trout & Wine (info at the end of the post; this isn’t sponsored in any way).  Our guide, Ivan, picked us up at our (adorable) Airbnb around 8:00am and took us around to pick up the rest of the group.

One thing that appealed to me about Trout & Wine was that they keep their tour groups quite small, so the group dynamic feels nice and intimate.  Along the way he told us about the history of the area and the wineries we’d be visiting.

You can get $40 off your first Airbnb booking with this link!

We started at Alta Vista, where we toured the wine-making facilities and then did the tasting.  It’s definitely interesting to start drinking wine around 9:30am 🙂

Alta Vista is a newer winery, started in 1998 by a French family.  Alto is their icon wine, and it is DELICIOUS.  I brought a bottle back with me and it’s sitting in my wine fridge just waiting for the perfect occasion.

Mendoza Wineries: A Must on Any Argentina Itinerary | Argentina's food and wine are amazing, and Mendoza is one of the best places to experience it! How to plan a winery tour trip in Argentina #argentina #mendoza #wineries

Next we headed to Susanna Balbo’s winery Dominio del Plata.  Considered the “First Woman of Wine” in Argentina, Susanna has played a major part in Argentina’s wine industry coming into its own on the world stage.

After the trip, I read a fascinating book that Ivan recommended called “The Vineyard at the End of the World”, about how Argentina’s wine industry grew and became an international powerhouse in the last few decades, highly recommend—read my review! If you’re headed down to do some Mendoza wine tours, this is a really interesting complement to your trip.

The tasting at Dominio del Plata was accompanied by four food items so we could better understand how food pairings affect the flavor of a wine.  We had arugula (bitter), a kind of sour cream-like cheese (sour), dulce de leche (sweet), and potato chips (salty/oily).

Argentina has become one of the best-known wine regions in the world, so touring wineries has to be on any Argentina travel itinerary

Next up was Benegas, where we did a tour and another straightforward tasting.  Benegas’s history goes way back, the founder’s great-grandfather founded El Trapiche in the 1880s, but the family sold the winery in the 1970s’ economic crisis.  The current winery was re-founded and restored in the late 1990s, which I think is an awesome story.

And finally, lunch!  Our last stop of the day was Casarena where, after a brief tour, we sat down for a six-course meal with wine pairings.

All about touring wineries in Mendoza, Argentina...some of the best food and wine you'll ever have

We started with a creamy, foamy ricotta with apple and yeasts, followed by grape leaf-wrapped quinoa with lemon and corn puree.  Next was a cured salmon and beet tartare and some kind of dried falafel-like thing.  These were just the starters.

A glass of sparkling to start our meal at Casarena...Mendoza winery tours

Isn’t this insane??  This is just starters!

The main course was, of course, steak (more on that in a minute), and then we finished with a palate cleanser of stone fruit gazpacho and then a little apple pancake with walnut cream and melon.

An amazing meal at Casarena during our Mendoza winery tours

The steak was definitely a highlight, as you’d expect in Argentina (and I’m a total steak snob, having grown up on a cow farm, so that’s really saying something).  It was served with potato and tomato confit.  And we finished our insane meal with a double espresso.  We all sat around and talked about our lives and where we’re from, tried our wines and relaxed.  It was such a lovely meal.

A day or two of Mendoza wine tours is well spent on any Argentina trip itinerary #gastrotourism

When we got back to our apartment around 5:00pm, Sarai basically face-planted and slept for a few hours and I couldn’t get up off the couch.  That much day drinking takes it out of you!  We were wishing we’d had a better breakfast to pre-emptively soak up the alcohol, and that we’d hydrated better.

Day 2:  Valle de Uco region

Wineries visited:  Pulenta, Sophenia, Andeluna

I made sure to get a quick run in the next morning, and we were picked up around the same time.  Since Valle de Uco is further away, we were only visiting three bodegas.

Our second day of Mendoza wine tours started at Pulenta (a winery founded in the early 1900s by an Italian family), starting with a little breakfast wine at 9:00am (breakfast of champions!).  Then we toured the facilities and settled in underground for our tasting.

Who says wine at 9:30am is crazy?? Starting our Mendoza winery tours at Pulenta

Next it was on to Sophenia (founded in the late ’90s), and finally a peek of blue skies!!

Mendoza winery tours...beautiful blue skies in Argentina

Grapes growing in Mendoza, Argentina

After a tour of the vines, we sat down for our tasting, which was lovely.  I love the story of Sophenia’s name…it’s a mashup of the two founders’ daughters names, Sophia and Eugenia, and I think that the “S” logo that looks like half of a wine glass is genius.

Then we settled in at Andeluna for our second superb lunch and wine pairings.

Beautiful Andeluna Winery in Mendoza

The two days we spent taking Mendoza wine tours rate among the best single days of food and wine I've had traveling anywhere in the world!

We started with a roasted watermelon carpaccio with a balsamic reduction, arugula, and sprinkled with sea salt.  After that we had a corn squash pastry with fresh ricotta, peaches, and basic, followed by a fried ravioli filled with gouda, green garlic sprouts, and a “chancho en piedra” (kind of like a spin on pico de gallo).

Watermelon carpaccio during our meal at Andeluna - 2 days of Mendoza winery tours

The two days we spent taking Mendoza wine tours rate among the best single days of food and wine I've had traveling anywhere in the world!

The two days we spent taking Mendoza wine tours rate among the best single days of food and wine I've had traveling anywhere in the world!

The two days we spent taking Mendoza wine tours rate among the best single days of food and wine I've had traveling anywhere in the world!

Visiting Andeluna during our Mendoza winery tours

The steak was again the hero of the meal, this time with lemon-oregano butter, beets, toasted pistachios, saffron mayo, and baby carrots.  And a phenomenal wine.

Two of the meals we had during our Mendoza winery tours were two of my all-timers

Mendoza winery tours...our two days with Trout and Wine were amazing

Feeling VERY full, we cleansed our palates with an apricot sorbet, then had white chocolate mousse and ice cream, preserved cherries, coconut, and fresh raspberries.  And a double espresso.  For digestion, of course 🙂

An amazing end to our two days of Mendoza winery tours

How to plan the ultimate 7-day Argentina itinerary | wine tours in Mendoza | With these tips you can have an amazing adventure. Where to go in Argentina, Argentina itinerary advice, where to go in Argentina, planning a trip to Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Argentina's Andes, planning a trip to Iguazu Falls. #argentina #mendoza #wineries

Here is our group pic from the second day.  The couple on the left, John and Ainsley, ended up being on both of our days of winery tours, so Sarai and I met them for dinner the second night.

Turned out they didn’t have plans for the next day, so we invited them to join us on our Andes high mountain tour the following day (also with Trout & Wine), and the four of us had an amazing time (more to come on that!).

Two days of Mendoza wine tours with Trout & Wine, who I found on TripAdvisor

About our two days of Mendoza wine tours

We did both days of wine tours as well as our Andes tour with Trout & Wine Tours (no, I wasn’t compensated in any way for this post).  I found them to be super responsive and we got a slight discount for booking multiple tours.  Highly recommend!

Other winery adventures you’ll love:

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Mendoza Wine Tours, a Must on Any Argentina Itinerary | Argentina's food and wine are amazing, and Mendoza is one of the best places to experience it! How to plan a winery tour trip in Argentina #argentina #mendoza #wineries

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