The city of Mendoza was founded in 1561. Prior to that time, three native tribes — the Huarpes, Puelches, and the Incas inhabited the area. The Huarpes devised an irrigation system that was further developed by the Spanish settlers and is still in use today. These trenches are visible along the city’s streets and carry the snowmelt from atop the Andes into the province and the city. Today, Mendoza city is the capital of the Mendoza province, although much of the population lives in the suburbs of the city, which are also home to the many wineries and premier vineyards of the region.
Wine is undeniably present in the culture of Mendoza. The city offers a wine museum focused on the long history of winemaking in the region. The Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, University of Mendoza, offers academic degrees focused on winemaking and the wine industry.
The city is overtaken in early March, each year by the grape harvest festival — The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia. Mendoza is a bustling city, with a modern cosmopolitan feel. It has wide, tree-lined avenues, plazas, shops, and cafes serving traditional Argentine fare as well as items influenced by a large number of Italian and German immigrants in the region. Mendoza is a wonderful place to visit, and in recent years has become a top wine tourism destination.
Mendoza is Argentina’s most well-known and prestigious winemaking region. The vineyards, located at high altitudes, enjoy abundant sunshine, natural irrigation from the Andes, a low incidence of vine disease, and an unpolluted natural environment. About 80% of Argentina’s wine is produced in Mendoza, coming from any of the three major areas within the region.
North Mendoza can be found in the basin of the Mendoza and Tunuyán Rivers. It includes the departments of Las Heras, Lavalle, Guaymallén, San Martín, Rivadavia, Santa Rosa, La Paz, Luján de Cuyo, and Maipú. Central Mendoza includes the departments of Tupungato, Tunuyán, and San Carlos. Finally, Southern Mendoza includes the departments of San Rafael and General Alvear and is irrigated by the Diamante and Atuel Rivers.
Home to a wide variety of grapes and wine styles, Mendoza offers reds such as Malbec, which originated in southern France and was brought to Argentina in the mid-19th century. It has become the country’s emblematic red varietal. You will also find plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon, an international varietal with a range of flavors in the Mendoza region: In the north, it can display blackberry and green pepper; in Cuyo, it can be fruity with hints of red currants; and in the south, it shows mineral and earthy flavors. The up-and-coming Bonarda is a variety often used in blends. When produced as an individual varietal it shows flavors of raspberry and anise. Originating from Italy, it is quickly gaining popularity as one of Argentina’s signature reds. When it comes to whites, Torrontes, the only grape considered truly indigenous to Argentina, can be produced in a variety of styles, from still to sweet or sparkling. It offers a unique, floral bouquet, and while planted largely in Mendoza, achieves its best results when grown in Salta province. You’ll also find Chardonnay, a wine of many styles: flavors of tropical fruits and apples can be evident. Mendoza is also producing reds such as Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Barbera with great success. Many other varietals are being cultivated and studied as the Argentine wine industry continues to flourish.