July 27, 2014

An Argentine Food Primer

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Restaurant "Butterfly" - Patagonia
 
Introduction
The Argentine lifestyle straddles both the Old and the New Worlds. Argentines never go out to dinner before 10:00 pm in the summer, and habitually stay out with friends through the early hours of the morning.

As tired as they might be from a late Saturday outing, however, they wouldn’t dare skip their mother’s Sunday family lunch: It’s a sacred tradition ingrained in a country where most people live and die in the same town where they are born.


Francis Mallmann - Argentine Cheff
 
 In Argentina, meat has always been at the center of every meal. Most Argentine beef is reared in the pampas, which includes parts of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Cordoba and Santa Fe Provinces. The secret of Argentine beef is the grass-fed tranquility in which the animals are reared, which, according to chef Francis Mallmann, makes the meat more delicious. “they are less stressed’ Mallmann says, there is no negative energy in their bodies”. In fact, Argentine beef does not need to be aged to acquire the tender mouthfeel that we like in oour beef, because the cows are slaughtered at a younger age and don’t require all the fat that corn-fed animals need in order to have tender, juicy meat.
 
 
Bariloche - Argentine Patagonia
 
Nahuel Huapi Lake - Bariloche - Argentina
 
Patagonia is home to Argentina’s best lamb and wild game – deer, duck and wild rabbits – and the place where many Swiss and German immigrants settled. A typical meal at the famed Llao Llao Hotel in Bariloche, Patagonia, is a wild-meats charcuterie plate, followed by several versions of wooden platter of grilled venison and lamb, sauteed wild mushrooms, and garden potatoes. On the esatern Atlantic Coast of Patagonia there is an abundance of oysters, mussels and king crab.

Empanadas Salteñas - Argentine North-West.
  
Salta
In Salta, everything (including the aromatic Torrontes white wine varietal ) is about spices and aromas. The classic empanadas of Salta are a bit spicy, with lots of onions and raisins. The humitas (corn on its husks) is made with red pepper flakes. Cumin is added to almost every dish. This spiciness is unusual for Argentina, where most people prefer their food not too spicy – the main flavorings being olive oil and garlic.

Torrontes - White Wine produced in Cafayate - Salta.
Mendoza  
 
In Mendoza City, that would be two places: Don Mario and La Barra. Mendoza, Salta and Patagonia, Argentina’s premium wine producing regions, each have their own local specialties. Mendoza is known for its empanadas, which are often made with chunks of meat rathern than ground meat. Because olive trees grow abundantly in Mendoza and were planted in home gardens and vinyeards by the Spanish and Italian immigrants, olives are a part of every appetizer dish and are used flavorful in Mendoza, so most people in the countryside make their own jams, preservers and dried fruits to eat in winter.

Buenos Aires

Although Buenos Aires is the capital of beef, which such famous traditional eateries as La Brigada in San Telmo and Cabana las Lilas in Puerto Madero and La Dorita in Palermo, every Argentine town claims its own best place for asado (barbecue).

In Buenos Aires, celebrity chefs routinely open venues and constantly dream up innnovative concepts in food and ambiance. The most trendy and fashionable neighborhood in Buenos Aires is Palermo Viejo – recnetly subdivided into Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood. Only ten years ago, Palermo was a seleepy part of town filled with run-down European-style houses built in the early part of the 20th century. Today, many of the neighborhood’s grand old homes have been restored, and Palermo’s vibrant community comprises dozens of cutting-edge restaurants, boutique hotels and the latest in fashion and design.

Tegui - Buenos Aires

Inovative Argentine Cuisine

In Buenos Aires:

Downtown: Tomo 1. 
Recoleta:  Tarquino.
Palermo: Tierra Adentro and HG.
Palermo Hollywood: Tegui; Per Se.
Puerto Madero: Osaka and The Faena Hotel.
La Boca: Patagonia Sur.

In Mendoza:

Seven Fires ( Francis Mallmann )
Nadia OF.

In Bariloche:

Butterfly
Cassis
Il Gabbiano

For further information, contact us and we will be glad to share our list of favorite restaurants with you.

Argentine Food: A Typical Argentine Asado

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All Argentine asados (barbecues) begin with the meat selection. The most authentic asados feature a varied selection of cuts, as well as different sausages, including short ribs, flank roast, skirt steak, pork sausages and blood sausages. About 1 pound (1/2 kg) of meat and sausages is the typical portion per adult.
 

Gaucho placing the cuts of meat on the grill
 
Simple metal grill racks placed over an open fire are popular, as are built-in cement or brick structures. Because controlling the heat in different areas is all-important, most people prefer to use a movable grill rack that allows easy access to the wood. The first step is choosing the proper wood for the fire. A lighter wood such as cypress or pine will produce a lot of flames, but the embers won’t last very long – perfect for a thinner piece of meat to be cooked rare. Denser, heavier hardwoods such as appel or oak take more time to light and have lower flames, but have longer-lasting embers for cooking larger cuts. If possible, a selection of both kinds of wood is best. The lighter woods will provide the first embers to begin the asado; the denser woods will provide longer-lasting embers for a nice finish. Calculate about 2 pounds ( 910 kg ) of wood for each pound of meat.

 
How to prepare the "fire" for the Barbecue
 
It’s important to always have a fire going off to the side of the grill – a “feeder fire” in a smaller barbecue grill – so you always have embers available to place under the grill and maintain the proper temperature. The best way to measure the temperature is to hold your hand 6 inches (15 cm) above the grill. If you can keep your hand there for 6 to 8 seconds, the fire is just right.

Once the fire is started, it´s time to clean the grill grids. The grinds should be left with the grease from the last cooking still on them- this ensures that they don´t rust. Placing the grill rack over the flames of the lit fire will melt all the grease. After about the 5 minutes, just wipe the grids clean with newspaper or a grill brush.

 
Typical Argentine "Parrilla" or Grill
 
Now, it´s time to season the meat. For a true Argentine barbecue, salt is the only necessary seasoning. It´s important to use a medium-to large- grained sea salt or kosher salt. The larges grains absorb less liquid from the meat and keep it from drying out. In Argentina, it is said that using sal gruesa (coarse salt) perfectly salts each cut; the excess salt just falls of as you move the meat to the grill!
 
Asado Argentino - Chorizos, Morcillas, Chinchulines, Mollejas, Costillar

Place the cuts that take longest to grill- the short ribs and flank roast-on the grill rack. The short ribs should go on bone side down, and the flank roast should by placed fast side down”
 
Add embers as necessary to keep the temperature at the proper level. Once you see a bit of juice coming out of the top of the meats, it’s time to flip them over. At this time, put the skirt steak and chorizos on the grill; these only take about half the time to cook.  Blood sausages, which are already cooked, go on last – you’re just warming them up on the grill ( be sure to turn them a time or two ). Continue to cook for about 30 minutes for medium-rare meat, 35 minutes for medium and 40 minutes for medium-well.
 
Choripan - Chorizo - Chimichurri sauce and French Bread
 
A typical Argentine Asado · An extract from Laura Catena’s book «Vino Argentino».
 

Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires:

For a Typical Asado:
 
San Telmo: La Brigada; El Desnivel.
Puerto Madero: Cabana las Lilas.
Palermo: La Dorita, Don Julio.
Palermo Soho: La Cabrera.
Villa Crespo: Don Zoilo.
Recoleta: El Mirasol and Nuestro Secreto ( Four Seasons Hotel ).

 
Bifes de Lomo en La Cabrera - Palermo Soho
 
 
 


July 17, 2014

Cafayate: Breathtaking Views and Wine Tours from Salta

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Cafayate - Salta, Argentina

Almost 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of Salta is the town of Cafayate. Encompassed by mountains, it’s the unofficial capital of the Calchaquíes Valley. The town is also at the heart of a large wine-producing region, which comes second only to Mendoza. Cafayate is a peaceful destination centered round a main square. There’re a handful of attractions but what draws visitors are the welcoming guesthouses, excellent restaurants and opportunities to visit the wineries.
 

Our Guide Silvi on her way to Cafayate
 
History enthusiasts might want to stop by the Rodolfo Bravo Regional and Archeaological Museum (cnr Calchaquí and Colón). It contains displays of artifacts relating to the life of the Diaguita-Calchaquí people and other Inca groups that inhabited the region. Wine lovers will enjoy the Museo de la Vid y el Vino, a museum with exhibits explaining Cafayate’s wine-producing history.
Valles Calchaquies - Salta
From Salta to Cafayate:
To get to Cafayate you take a bus or rent a car in Salta City, which takes about 4-hours and passes through the spectacular landscape of Quebrada de Cafayate. The best way to get here, however, is to rent a car and drive along Ruta 68. This is one of the most rewarding drives in Argentina as the road cuts through the middle of a Mars-like region of sandstone rock formations. There’s plenty to see on the route and numerous landmarks are signposted, such as an amphitheater, and rocks resembling a castle and a toad. Bring a picnic and find a secluded spot in amongst the cliffs; just remember to pack plenty of water because it can get extremely hot.
Quebrada de las Conchas - Salta
If you do rent a car then make the trip to the town of Cachi. There’s not a great deal to do but the scenery is magnificent. The town is 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Cafayate, along Ruta 40. You could make a round trip from Salta to Cafayate and then return via Cachi, taking the scenic Cuesta del Obispo mountain route.

Church in Cachi - Salta
Wineries
Cafayate’s wineries are within easy reach of the town, with many clustered around the junction of Ruta 40 and Ruta 68. The easiest way to get to them is by car, but many are also reachable on foot. Alternatively, rent bike and spend the day taking different tours and exploring the area’s countryside. Ask at your hotel about bike rental. This wine region is famous for growing the Torrontés grape, used for white wines.
Winery near Cafayate
Bodega El Esteco (Ruta 40 and Ruta 68). Just north of the entrance to Cafayate, this is one of the most popular bodegas in the region. Its Elementos brand is a mid-priced wine seen all over the country. Informative tours explain the process involved in winemaking then finish with tastings in a bar-cum-shop. After a tour you can enjoy open views of the mountains and vineyards. The colonial style white-washed building is also a 32-room boutique hotel. The bodega is a 25-minute walk from Cafayate’s main square.
 
Bodegas Etchart (Ruta 40, Km 4338). Founded in 1850, this is one of the oldest wineries in the region. The vines grow at a height of 5,740 feet (1,750 meters), thus making it part of one of the world’s highest vinicultures. The bodega runs standard tours that include a visit to the vineyards and factory followed by tastings.
El Esteco - Cafayate - Salta
 
Vasija Secreta (Ruta 40). At the entrance to Cafayate, this bodega is also within walking distance of the town center. In addition to a tour of the bodega, you can visit the Wine Museum, which has displays of historic wine machinery and barrels. The bodega has its restaurant where wine experts will help you choose the correct wine to enjoy with your meal. You should book in advance for the restaurant.
Bodega Nanni (Silverio Chavarría 151). Just one block from the town’s main square, this bodega is ideal if you are just passing through Cafayate and want a quick peek into the world of winemaking. It specializes in the production of organic wines, and is managed by the fourth generation of an Italian family that moved to the region in 1885.
 
Restaurants
There are plenty of dining options in town, with most places focusing on regional food, and you don’t have to walk far to find them. Surrounding the main square are a host of restaurants and cafés, including La Carreta de Don Olegario (Gral. Güemes Sur 20). Come here for traditional Salteño fare and excellent empanadas. The terrace is a good place to watch activity on the square, and there’s live music in the evenings.
For empanadas with a local twist, such as goat cheese and sweet corn, head to La Casa de las Empanadas (Mitre 24), just off the main square. It does a good range of regional plates as well, including locro and goat stew. Quilla Huasi Restaurant (Camila Quintana de Niño 70) is another restaurant worth checking out. The menu has similar offers to the previously mentioned restaurants, and it has large wine selection. Indigenous decorations give the restaurant a welcoming ambience and authentic feel.
After dinner, continue your wine enjoyment at Chato’s Wine Bar (Ntra. Sra del Rosario 132) to sample almost every wine produced in the Calchaquíes Valley. If you get hungry then order a picada of cheese and cold cuts. El Almacen Bar (Camila Quintana de Niño 59) is also good for a drink. It’s part of a hostel by the same name so is usually busy with travelers. Alternatively, stop by Baco Restobar( Av. Güemes Norte y Rivadavia) to mix with the locals.
 
Outdoor Activities
One of the most thrilling excursions in this region is the Tren a las Nubes (The Train to the Clouds). Departing from Salta, the train travels for 135 miles (217 kilometers) to La Polvorilla Viaduct at La Puna. It reaches a height of 13,845 feet (4,220 meters) above sea level thus making it one of the world’s highest train journeys. En route, the train crosses 29 bridges, through 21 tunnels and over numerous viaducts, and you’ll experience unrivalled views of the Andes. It’s a 16-hour round trip and food is available onboard, although you might want to bring a packed lunch as well. Purchase tickets from Turismo Tren a las Nubes (cnr Buenos Aires and Caseros).
White-water rafting is a popular tour from Salta. Cabra Corral Dam is also the location of numerous high-adrenalin sports, including bungee jumping, abseiling and paragliding.
Rafting at Cabra Corral Dam - Salta
The mountains and countryside encompassing Salta and Jujuy are perfect for hiking trips. From Salta, we arrange hikes ranging from one to seven days. We specialize in combined trekking and bird-watching excursions. Further north, Ideas Turisticas organizes treks in the Jujuy province.
Hiking Trip in Salta - Quebrada de las Conchas
You can contact our Experts for the best licensed drivers, Tour Guides, mountain biking and horseback riding tours, too.
 

July 16, 2014

Salta City: Captivating beauty.

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The city of Salta is by a long stretch the tourism capital of Argentina’s northwest region. It’s a city where the old converges with the new and where the old comes out on top. Whether arriving from Buenos Aires or crossing the border from Bolivia, you’ll notice instantly the laidback lifestyle of Salta. Time often feels as though it has stood still around the cobblestone streets of the city center, which is blessed with colonial architecture. Tradition runs deep here, most notably during Carnival when locals hit the streets to pay homage to Pachamama, the Incan goddess of fertility.
 
Parque Nacional Los Cardones - Salta
 
Founded in 1582 by Governor Hernando de Lerma of Tucumán, today the city is commonly known as Salta la Linda (Salta the Pretty). The city’s name originates from the word sagta, which means beautiful in the language of the Aymara indigenous people. Unlike other Argentine cities, Salta didn’t witness a wave of mass immigration. However, what the city missed out on in European influence it benefited by maintaining the traditions of the Diaguita-Calchaquí indigenous group and other Inca tribes.
 
Cabildo - Historical Center of Salta
 
The city of  Salta, with its slow pace of life and colonial architecture, is brimming with boutique hotels and restaurants. It’s surrounded by places offering every imaginable adventure sport, from paragliding to bungee jumping.

 
What to See and Do
 
From architecture and museums to artisanal markets and hilltop lookouts, there’s plenty to see and do in Salta. Start your visit at Plaza 9 de Julio, the city’s main square. On its north side is the stunning Salta Cathedral (España 596). It houses the ashes of General Martin Miguel de Güemes, an important figure during the wars of independence. The interior of blue, green and gold is spotless, as is the impressive cathedral organ. There’s also a small museum that holds religious relics.
 
Salta's Cathedral - Salta City

From the cathedral, walk over to the Museo Arqueologiá de Alta Montaña (Mitre 77). If you only visit one museum in Salta then make it this one, which dedicates itself to the preservation of Andean culture and anthropology. The highlight is the so-called Llullaillaco Children, three mummified and perfectly-preserved Inca children discovered at Llullaillaco Volcano in 1999. Historians believe the children were sacrificed in a fertility ceremony or as an offering to the Incan gods, around the year 1490. To maintain the preservation, only one is on display at any one time. On the south side of Plaza 9 de Julio is the Museo Histórico delNorte (Caseros 541). Housed in Salta’s original cabildo (town hall), the museum contains displays of Salta’s Indian and colonial history, in addition to art exhibits.

Walk east along Caseros street until you reach Córdoba street. Here, you’ll find the Iglesia San Francisco, a striking church with a 174-feet (53-meter) tower and terracotta exterior. Inside, a small museum displays religious images from the 1600s and 1700s. Continue along Caseros to Santa Fe, where you’ll see the Convento de San Bernardo. Access is for Carmelite nuns only but it’s worth passing by to see the striking wooden door of the main entrance.

Iglesia de San Francisco - Salta City
 
For panoramic views of Salta, and the city’s surroundings, take the teleférico (cable car) to Cerro San Bernardo. The teleférico leaves from Parque San Martín, a 15-mintue walk from Plaza 9 de Julio. At the hilltop are various balconies and lookout points, and terraced gardens. Look for a monument dedicated to the Battle of Salta, and 14 Stations of the Cross. The hilltop is a good spot for a picnic and to watch the sunset. If you are feeling energetic then walk up via the route that starts behind Güemes Monument (Paseo Güemes and Av. Uruguay). Combine a ride on the cable car with walk around Parque San Martín, which is similar to Palermo Woods in Buenos Aires.
Salta is a great place to shop for leather, ceramic and textile goods, and you’ll find things markedly cheaper than in other parts of Argentina. The best place to shop is at the Mercado Artesanal (San Martín 2555), located in an old millhouse about 25 blocks from Plaza 9 de Julio. There’s a nice café here that you can have a drink in before making your way back. On Sunday mornings, head to Balcarce street, where the Feria Artesanal sets up, selling everything from homemade honey and jams to clothing and locally-made souvenirs.
 
Nightlife and Restaurants
The cuisine of Argentina’s northwestern region is notably different from the rest of the country. Be sure to try the empanadas, which many say are the finest in Argentina. Other local fare includes: locro, a thick stew of corn, beans and potato; tamale, corn flour wraps filled with meat and/or potatoes and steamed in a leaf wrapper; and humita, steamed corn husks filled with mashed corn and cheese.
 
Humita - Traditional dish with sweetcorn - Salta.
 
 
Make the El Patio de la Empanada (cnr San Martín and Esteco) top of your list of places to eat. It’s a simple establishment; an open-air patio lined with family-run stalls selling classic Salteño fare. Take a seat at any table, wait for a waitress and order a plate of delicious empanadas. It’s great value and locals fill the tables at lunchtime, so it can’t be bad. The Mercado Central (cnr Florida and San Martín) is another good spot to pick up some cheap eats, including fresh fruit and vegetables.
 
 
Empanadas and Spices
When in Salta don’t miss out on a night at a peña, a restaurant and folkloric music venue. You can enjoy local food while watching music and dance performances, and it’s likely that you’ll be invited to join in the dancing. There’re a number of such venues on Balcarce street. Salta’s most famous peña, however, is Peña Balderrama (San Martín 1126). Many of Argentina’s folk music bands would meet here and the bar has been immortalized in a folkloric song. The bar is opposite El Patio de la Empanada, and it’s worth making reservations.

We highly recommend: La Casona del Molino.

La Casona del Molino (the mill house) is the nook where all friends, guitars and bombos of Salta meet to enjoy a true peña, the expression of Argentine traditions. Address: Luis Burela 1, Salta City.


La Casona del Molino - Salta City
 

Contact us for more detailed information of our customized Itineraries.

July 14, 2014

Salta and Jujuy Northwest of Argentina

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Spectacular valleys, colonial towns and Andean culture
 
In Salta and Jujuy, you’ll get a taste of authentic Argentinean culture before driving onto the vast Altiplano past ancient Inca ruins, tiny white-washed villages, salt lakes, giant cacti and palm trees. On the way, you’ll be staying in local accommodation in small villages.

Salta and Jujuy are the most northwesterly provinces in Argentina, situated around 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) from Buenos Aires. The provinces’ close proximity to the Andes and Bolivia has resulted in prevailing indigenous and rural cultures thus a region of Argentina that will feel far removed from its Europeanized urban centers.   

 

El Monje - Quebrada de las Conchas - Salta
 
Here, the familiar tapestry of the country’s European heritage begins to unravel as the land rises up towards the Andes. Through llama herds and polychromatic ponchos, the ancient cultures of the Andean peoples reach down from Peru and Bolivia, while some of the nation’s oldest remnants of the conquering Spanish can be found in heart-rending folklore ballads and time-warped adobe and wood churches.
 

The largest city and main jumping-off point for exploring this area is Salta, the Capital of the province. Salta boasts some charming boutique hotels, Estancias, hotels, plenty of tourist and car rental agencies and a nice central plaza, but it’s not a place you should plan to stay for more than a couple of nights. Other real gems are small colonial towns located near Salta (such as Tilcara, Cachi, Cafayate and Humahuaca) and the landscapes in and around them that also deserve a visit.

Gauchos Parade in the streets of Salta
 
There are myriad things to do in this region of Argentina and it’s also one of the cheaper areas to travel.  Visit the picturesque towns of Humahuaca and Tilcara to see how Andean cultures continue to thrive.
 
 
Cerro de los Siete Colores - Purmamarca

There are two important circuits that should start in Salta City:
Wine Country of Cafayate and Calchaqui Valleys: Cafayate is most famous for its Torrontés grape, used to create a lovely dry, fruity white wine. This particular provincial wine has received a great deal of global praise, earning it the notable title of, ‘the white wine of Argentina.’
A drive through the terracotta colored rocks of Quebrada de las Conchas, the third in a series of stunning ravines you will have encountered by now in the Calchaqui Valley.
 
Historic Center of Salta City - Cabildo
 Quebrada de Humahuaca 
This mountain valley route runs for around 96 miles (155 kilometers) alongside the Río Grande. Historically, this is an old trade route known as the Camino Inca and has been used for some 10,000 years. Spreading out at intervals along the trail are Inca-influenced towns and villages, namely Humahuaca, Purmamarca and Tilcara. Adding to its scenic qualities is the Andean Plateau, which borders the north and west, and the sub-Andean hills towards the east.
Its distinctive pre-Hispanic and pre-Incan settlements, as a group with their associated field systems, form a dramatic addition to the landscape and one that can certainly be called outstanding.

 
Quebrada de Humahuaca - Jujuy
 Best time to travel
The region is great to visit at any time of the year and Salta city is particularly famous for possessing an agreeable year-round climate. If there was an ideal time to come then it would be in spring and the beginning of summer (September to December). During this period daytime temperatures fluctuate between 74°F and 84°F (23°C and 30°C), with lows rarely falling below 50°F (10°C). Spring is also the dry season. At the height of summer temperatures can hit the 104°F (40°C) mark and flash thunderstorms occur. Autumn is another great time to visit as the summer rain gives life to the mountainous landscape and creates a sweeping panorama of greenery.
 
Alejandra and Silvina at Yacochuya's Vineyard - Cafayate, Salta
 

We offer two options for the programs depending on the season: the wet season takes place from December to March and the dry season from April to November.

Contact us for more detailed information of our customized Itineraries.


July 06, 2014

Mendoza: Touring the Wine Country

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Mendoza´s Wine Region is divided into Four Zones

Less commercialized than their Europan and American counterparts, Mendoza´s wineries are easily accessible along wine roads known locally as Los Caminos del Vino. These roads are as enticing as the wine itself, weaving and winding through tunnels of trees to vast dry valleys dominated by breathtaking views of the snowcapped Andes. 

Some roads climb as high as 5,000 ft. in the High Zone surrounding the Mendoza River, while others lead to lower-level v ineyards in the south. Mendoza´s wine region is divided into four zones: the High Zone, Mendoza East, Uco Valley and Mendoza South. Different wine roads branch out through these zones and can be driven in part or total, allowing you to tour as many of Mendoza´s bodegas as you like. 

The High Zone 

The High Zone that surrounds the Mendoza River includes Lujan de Cuyo and parts of Las Heras, Guaymallen, Lujan and Maipu. This first zone is best regarded for its production of Malbec, although cabernet souvignon, Chenin, Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah are all bottled as well. 

Catena Zapata´s Barrel Storage 

Mendoza East Region

The Mendoza East Region is the second zone, comprised of Junin, Rivadavia, San Martin, Santa Rosa and La Paz. This is the province´s largest wine producing area, where the vineyards irrigated by the Tunuyan and Mendoza rivers harvest Malbec, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah.
Catena Zapata - Lujan de Cuyo

Uco Valley 

South of Mendoza, the Uco Valley Region, including Tunuyan, Tupungato and San Carlos, produces excellent Malbec, Semillon (a white) and Torrontes (another white, more common in Salta). 

Clos de los Siete - Uco Valley 

South of Mendoza 

The final zone is the Mendoza South Region, between San Rafael and General Alvear. Fed by the Atuel and Diamante rivers, its best varieties are Malbec, Bonarda and Cabernet Sauvignon. You will need at least a day to visit this region.


Salentein - Valle de Uco 

Los Caminos del Vino

Throughout your drive you will stumble upon wineries old and new, some producing on a large scale and exporting internationally, others small and focused on the local market. It is difficult to say which bodegas excel over others, as each has its own focus and success. Among some of the best -known are Bodega Catena Zapata (Lujan), which is a boutique winery of the larger Bodgeas Esmeralda; Bodegas Chandon (Lujan), a subsidiary of France´s Moet and Chandon; Salentein (Tunuyan); Norton ( Lujan); Lopez (Maipu); Etchart (Lujan). 

Close to Mendoza in neighboring Maipu, Bodega la Rural has a small winery museum that exhibits Mendoza´s earliest wine production methods. Another excellent winery close to town is Dollium, one of the only bodegas producing underground to allow for natural cooling. 

At most bodegas, a tasting follows a tour of the laboratory and winery, and there is little pressure to buy. 

Salentein - Art Space

Valle de Uco

According to experts, Valle de Uco is the finest wine region in Mendoza. Situated on the Tunuyán River around 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Mendoza, it’s home to over 100 wineries, many of which have been set up by international investors. The average annual temperature of 57°F (14°C), more than 250 days of sunshine per year and altitudes that vary between 2,625 and 3,936 feet (800 and 1,200 meters) are what give this valley its revered grape-growing qualities.

Bodega DiamAndes - Valle de Uco 

Consequently, this region of Mendoza features significantly on the Mendoza wine route. The traditional grapes grown here are Malbec and Semillón, with the latter being used to produce sweet white wines. Other grapes include Bonarda and Barbera, Cabarnet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, all of which can be sampled at the region’s bodegas.
Notable bodegas here include Bodega Salentein (cnr Ruta 89 and Videla, Los Árboles), Clos de los Siete and O Fournier.  

Barrels at O Fournier - Uco Valley

Each February, the wine season culminates with the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (National Wine Harvest Festival) which includes a parade, folk dancing, a coronation of the festival´s Queen. March 2015 is expected to bring the best harvest season in 19 years due to ideal weather conditions and improved grape quality, giving Argentines a much-needed reason to celebrate. 

Miss Andrea Sofia Haudet´s Coronation of the Queen 2014

Ideas Turísticas arrange private custom tours with bi-lingual wine experts.

Ideas Turísticas offer two types of tours:

1. Organized, carefully planned tours in small groups: Every winery we visit shows winemaking in Mendoza from a different angle. The visits are exclusive and we have worked extensively with the wineries to tailor and fine-tune them specifically for us. For example in one bodega (=winery) you may taste wines from different terroirs, in another we will focus on the winemaking and taste directly from tanks and barrels, and a third winery has the history of the owners’ family that has made wine since the 19th century.
At the moment we offer small group tours to two destinations, our Luján de Cuyo Wine Experience and our Uco Valley Wine Experience. We have found that the most enjoyable tours are those where you share the experience with a small group of like-minded people. This is why we have a maximum group size of 8 people.

2. Private Deluxe Tours: Our regular tours in small groups and our private tours already include medium and top range wine tastings, however, as wine lovers know, with wine there is virtually no limit on tasting even more top wines. In our deluxe tours we include tour elements of the highest possible quality, like tasting that 98 point bottle that Robert Parker liked so much, tasting different vintages, special lunches, and encounters with winery owners or enologists. If you want the best of the best, on our deluxe tours we will pull out all the stops for you.

Dinner at "Siete Fuegos" Francis Mallman´s new Restaurant 

Siete Fuegos Asado Experience 
Inspired by Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos techniques, the ramada and outdoor grilling space were built amongst the vineyards in a location where The Vines staff had been preparing asados for years. The team’s vision was to bring an authentic Argentine outdoor asado experience to guests under the shelter of a typical ramada. The surrounding area has been built out to include a designated space for each of the seven fires, kitchen prep area, bocce ball court, hitching post for guests who arrive on horseback, restroom, and even a siesta space where you can relax in a hammock after stuffing your belly full of delicious asado and wine. 


The area is now full of guests enjoying the full Siete Fuegos Asado experience every Wednesday through Sunday.

Contact us for more information about Mendoza and our featured Wine Tours or book your wine tour and ensure availability.