Uco Valley: Mendoza, Argentina
About 70 miles south of Mendoza, Argentina, lies one of the most picturesque wine regions in the world...
About 70 miles south of Mendoza, Argentina, lies one of the most picturesque wine regions in the world: the Uco Valley. Just a few short miles away, the foothills of the Andes mountains give rise to 20,000-foot peaks, including the 22,841-foot Aconcagua, which is the highest mountain outside of Asia. The terrain and weather in this region are similar to the southwestern United States and present an ideal combination for growing grapes. Hot days give way to cool nights and the porous, rocky ground allows the Andean water runoff to filter into the clay soil below.
In recent decades, there has been a migration of French winemakers to the region, bringing more global visibility and validation to what was previously seen by many as a budget winemaking region. The Clos de Los Siete project is made up of four Bordeaux families and includes the Robert Parker 100-point winemaker Marcelo Pelleriti of Bodega Monteviejo.
An innovative project The Vines Resort & Spa, was started with the intent to allow individuals to achieve their dream of becoming winemakers by offering one-acre plots of land for purchase. The property boasts luxury casitas, a restaurant created by internationally acclaimed chef Francis Mallmann, multiple boutique wineries offering tours and tastings, and an eponymous winery with a master winemaker to assist individual plot owners in bringing their wines to fruition. Some notable wineries on the property are Corazon del Sol, Solo Contigo and the naturally-inclined Super Uco.
The primary grape in the region is Malbec. Nuvo Magazine has a fascinating article on the history of the Malbec grape, which has been planted in France since the Middle Ages and was one of the five original Bordeaux varietals. Many factors led to the Malbec decline in Bordeaux, not the least of which was the phylloxera epidemic of the 19thcentury, which wiped out most of the original growth vines. But while the grape declined in Bordeaux, it continues to shine bright in the arid climate of Mendoza.
No trip to Argentina would be complete without steak, and there are plenty of fantastic options in the region, including Siete Fuegos at The Vines. Their Wednesday evening Chef’s Table option is a front-row seat to witness Argentinian open-fire cooking at its best. Other dining experiences include Zucardi’s impressive lunch at their award-winning bodega, a low-key outdoor lunch with views of the Andes at Gimenez Riili and Casa de Uco’s stunning views and excellent ribeye. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself traveling through the rugged beauty of Argentina’s wine country, our Explorer Backpack and Cavalier Series duffel bags make excellent companions.