Looking for a somewhat traditional (Napa style) wine tasting experience with larger-production wineries, impressive architecture, and vast cellars, the Luján de Cuyo region will probably appeal most to you. Just to the south of Mendoza city, across the River Mendoza, lies Luján de Cuyo, a village now entirely surrounded by vineyards and wineries. Being situated so close to the river, the majority of these vineyards are based on alluvial soil types; sandy, stony surfaces based on clay substrata. A significant benefit of being placed so close to a glacial river is the lower salinity, and the lack of the impurities often found in other river types. In 1993, Luján de Cuyo became Argentina’s first official appellation, the result of which has been a steady increase in both the quantity and quality of wines produced there. The region had had its own DOC status for four years previous to this recognition by the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine). Malbec in particular is successful in Luján de Cuyo.
Approximately 90 minutes south of the city of Mendoza, the Uco Valley encompasses the highest altitude Argentine vineyards, averaging between 900 and 1200 meters above sea level. Known especially for Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Semillón, and Torrontés production, the Valle de Uco draws winemakers from all over the world (including world renowned enological consultant Michel Rolland). Its striking natural setting — below a stretch of the Andes that includes the 6,800 meter Mount Tupungato. The valley has a dry weather and the wide thermal amplitude between day and night have created its distinctive microclimates that result in wines that are rich in color and ideal for aging.
Part of the Mendoza River high region (also known as the Central Valley), Maipu comprises a high concentration of wineries that are known for producing some of Argentina’s finest Malbecs from the regions oldest vines. A thirty-minute drive southeast of Mendoza’s city center, Maipu is also a good place to sample other red varietals (including Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Tempranillo, and Syrah) in addition to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin, Torrontés and Viognier.