Some people love adventure travel, some love cultural trips, but if the wine-o in you is seeking a themed vacation, then Argentina’s Mendoza might be the perfect prescription. It’s welcoming, affordable, easy to get around, and it offers incredible food and wine (and the strikingly beautiful Argentines ain’t so tough on the eyes either). If you don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry. You’ll get along just fine speaking wine. Malbec is the region’s most prevalent varietal, but cabernet, tempranillo, and chardonnay are booming there as well.
You can fly to Buenes Aires from the United States, but you’ll have to change airports for the 1.5-hour flight to Mendoza. Another option is to fly into Santiago, Chile, change planes, and go on to Mendoza. What’s the upside of South America travel? The 10- or 12-hour flight from New York gives you plenty of time to sleep and since there’s little shift in time, unlike Europe, jetlag is nearly zero. Depending on your citizenship, you’ll need to pay a reciprocity fee online before you leave. Don’t forget — they check on it coming and going.
Centrally located, family owned, and quaint, Finca Adalgisa is a winery and small inn with views of the Andes. Its rooms are rustic and chic, and the inn makes its tapas and wine on site. Add in the pool amid the vines along with the empanada-making lessons and you’ll never want to leave.
If you prefer luxury, a city environment, and a larger hotel, the Park Hyatt Mendoza is within walking distance to many cafés and shops and boasts an elegant spa and pool, and a casino. Breakfast out front facing the Plaza Independencia is a wonderful way to start the day. The kitchen makes a mean empanada as well.
Food and Wine
You can zip-line, hike, bike, or go horseback-riding, but let’s face it: If you’re reading this, you probably want to drink red wine and eat steak. Most hotels can arrange transport and a day of winery tastings. Don’t miss the very tiny family-owned Domaine St. Diego. Leave room in your suitcase for a few bottles or ship a case because you can only buy it onsite. Unlike many other wine destinations, most Mendoza wineries combine tastings with incredible meals, making an afternoon of over-indulging well worth the hit on your waistline. Try Ruca Malen for an elegant outdoor food and wine pairing or the lower key but equally indulgent Clos de Chacras. Nadia O.F. is considered a top culinary hot spot for dinner at night and don’t worry, they’ll pair your meal with wine, too, including some great sparkling and white wines as well.
If you’re stopping over in Buenos Aires, stay at Home, a boutique hotel in the trendy Palermo district or the Four Seasons in the more upscale La Recoleta neighborhood. The seasons are opposite ours, so high and hot summer is in January.