Mendoza & Central AndesPrint
Mendoza is the wine capital of the country, a region whose wine industry has become serious competition for European and Californian wines in the last few years. The landscape around the vineyards is uncannily Mediterranean, with olive trees surrounding the vines, and small homes nestled in the shade of wisterias and willow trees.
In the wintertime, Mendoza is a major ski destination, offering a variety of slopes for skiers and snowboarders, and even horseback riding in the snow. Guarded by 7,000 meter high Mount Aconcagua, the province of Mendoza hosts some of Argentina’s greatest outdoor opportunities.
The region is nestled at the foot of the Andes, which mark the border with Chile to the west. To the north is the province of San Juan, to the east that of San Luis, and to the south, those of La Pampa and Neuquen. Its two major cities are Mendoza, the capital, and San Rafael. It is an area that is naturally arid, a true desert side by side with one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. A visible, intricate system of irrigation called asequias, have created booming agriculture.
Italian and Spanish immigrants settled in the region in the 19th century, bringing grape vines from Europe, along with many other trees and plants native to the Mediterranean. The city of Mendoza is known for its excellent restaurants and dining—if you’re a foodie Mendoza should be your first stop. Food is an important area of Mendozan culture, probably because the production of high quality wines and olive oils opened the taste buds of its inhabitants. There is a variety of chocolates, cookies and candies that are all worth chomping on. Alcayota in particular is typical of the region; it is a local plant that is made into jellies and candies, and it’s absolutely delicious.
Though it might be hard to drag yourself away from the wineries, the Andes are the site of a great many possible cultural and outdoor excursions. The mountains close to the city of Mendoza are the site of the Camino del Inca, a paved “highway” created under the Incan empire which subsists today, and along which can be seen for example the Puente del Inca, a naturally formed bridge.
The outdoor opportunities are virtually endless. Rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking, river rafting, biking, (biking wine tours), horseback riding and skiing are all on the menu here. For more information, please see our complete guide to Mendoza.
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