The Uco Valley is one of the most important wine production regions of Mendoza, Argentina. In this guide you find all the information you need to organize your wine tour in the Uco Valley. You will also find a selection of our most popular guided tours to discover its best wines and most interesting wineries.
Why visit the Uco Valley
Thanks to its landscape, the Uco Valley is one of the most spectacular wine-growing areas in the world. The typical image is that of flat expanses of perfectly lined up vines and the towering presence of the Andes in the background. It is a vision that gives visitors a great tranquillity and energy; the wine that is produced there has a great intensity. In the last fifteen years, it experienced a great development, drawing the interest of wine lovers and wine critics from all over the world. Robert Parker, Tim Atkin, Stephen Tanzer have focused their attention on the wines of the region, some of which scored up to 95 points.
What to do in the Uco Valley?
You can visit vineyards and wine cellars. There are all kind of wineries. Smaller, traditional ones with friendly hospitality, or modern facilities with minimalist architecture that harmoniously blends with the landscape of vineyards and mountains. There are wineries where you can have private lunches and dinners and enjoy unique combinations of authentic local ingredients and wines.
There are all kinds of tastings, from just two wines to complete vertical tastings of all the historical vintages of a winery. But Uco Valley is not just about visiting the wineries. Tours can include horseback riding, trekking, cooking classes and river rafting.
Where is Uco Valley and how to get there
The Uco Valley is located 100 km, about an hour’s drive, south of the city of Mendoza. Its three sub-regions are Tunuyan, Tupungato and San Carlos, with a total of more than 120 wineries. The average distance between wineries is 30 minutes.
If you are used to visiting vineyards and wineries in Europe, when organizing your tour in the Uco Valley you must take into account the great distances that characterize Argentina. The Uco Valley is part of the Mendoza wine region, in the central-western part of the country. The city of Mendoza is approx. 1200 km from Buenos Aires. The main access is by plane through Buenos Aires or Santiago de Chile. Mendoza has a modern international airport, El Plumerillo, renovated in 2015 and conveniently located just 9 km (20 minutes) from the city. In and around Mendoza you will find a wide variety of hotels, wineries and restaurants to make the most of your stay. Many wineries can host visitors to stay overnight, with elegantly furnished rooms, equipped with all amenities, swimming pools, spas, etc.
When is the best time to visit the Uco Valley
Argentina is in the southern hemisphere. The harvest begins in mid-February and lasts until the last week of April each year. During this period wineries are always very busy, but it is also the best time for a wine tour. You can experience all the stages of wine making and the atmosphere is always extremely exciting. In February, in the streets of Mendoza there is the National Harvest Festival, with tastings and evening events.
The Uco Valley Terroir
The ingredients that made the Uco Valley the ideal place to produce exceptional wines are an average altitude ranging from 850 to 1700 meters above sea level, intense solar radiation, dry desert climate, well-defined seasons, composition of the soil, pure water of the Andes, the landscape of the Cordillera and its people. Today it is one of the most important wine tourism destinations in Argentina. Mendoza is developing a system of Denominations on the European model, and the Uco Valley will be one of the most important denominations.
Altitude is the most important quality factor for wine making in Mendoza. The Uco Valley is one of the highest wine-growing regions in the world, with an average of around 1,100 m above sea level.
Most of the soil in the Mendoza area is of alluvial origin. These are ancient riverbeds, with a composition of pebbles and sand. Wines from alluvial soils tend to be rather light. What gives the Uco Valley wines their intensity is the altitude and the sunshine with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.
The Uco Valley is an extreme production region, with a basically desert climate, very hot during the day and cold at night. The risk of sudden frosts is always present. Another problem in the area is hail, which can, once every few years, affect the harvest.
Water management in the Uco Valley has always been problematic. The region is very arid and, in the past, wineries used to irrigate by flooding the vineyards. In recent years, most wineries have introduced a more efficient drip irrigation system, which allows to optimize and save a valuable resource such as water.
There is a great variety and experimentation among the cellars of the Uco Valley. More than 30 grape varieties are cultivated in the vineyards. Among the most cultivated there is Malbec, the most representative grape variety of Argentina. Malbec’s birthplace is France, where it is still grown in Cahors, and to some extent in Bordeaux. It was introduced to Argentina by French agricultural engineer Michel Pouget in 1868 and is now widely cultivated in Argentina, where it evolved by developing smaller grapes in smaller bunches compared to its French cousin and ultimately producing less tannic rounder and fruity wine.
Other important grape varietals in Uco are Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda. Some producers focus on unusual grapes such as Grenache and Mourvedre and some such as Solocontigo and Corazon del Sol have introduced the GSM blend (Grenache – Syrah – Mourvedre).
The Wines of Uco
There is no single style and character for the wines of the Uco Valley. Unlike the wine-growing areas of the old world, here the young wine-growers have no resistance to innovate and experiment new things. Certainly there is a great influence of European styles, but the unique terroirs with their infinite combinations give rise to a great variety of wines.
The variables are grape varieties, soil composition, climatic conditions, altitude, cultivation methods, harvest period, vinification techniques.
You will find lighter, medium-bodied, robust and structured wines, to be drunk young, or with great ageing potential, white, red, rosé, sparkling wines, late harvest, organic and biodynamic wines.
Tell us which style of wine you prefer and we will select the cellars with the wines best suited to your taste. The wines of the Uco Valley are very versatile, which is why restaurants around the world include them on their menus.
International investors started to develop ambitious wine projects between 1993 and 1995. Companies such as Salentein, Clos de los Siete and Francois Lurton were pioneers in the creation of wineries and vineyards at high altitudes.
The Uco Valley is still in full development. The worldwide success of its wines has further increased the growth of new vineyards and wineries. Some of the most popular wineries in the Uco Valley are Salentein, Andeluna, La Azul, Domaine, Bousquet, Clos de los siete, Alfa Crux, Gimenez Riili, Solocontigo, Corazon del Sol, Super Uco, Atamisque, Piedra Infinita Zuccardi.
Where to eat and sleep
The hotel proposal has grown a lot with a wide choice of first-class accommodation in the area. Some hotels where to stay overnight: The Vines Resort & Spa, Casa de Uco, Casa Petrini.
Lodges category : Alpasion, Gimenez Riili, Alfa Crux.
Our favourite restaurants in the area are Il Blu, 7 fuegos, Domaine Bousquet, Andeluna, Alfa Crux, Stone of Infinity Zuccardi, Gimenez Riili.
Compared to the tranquillity of the Uco Valley, the city of Mendoza offers more options to spend the evening in restaurants, bars and cafes.
Mendoza is now considered one of the world’s wine capitals. In recent years it has become very popular as a place where you can combine gastronomy, spectacular mountain landscapes and wine tourism.
It is a good starting point if you want to explore other regions in the area, where you can spend three or four days visiting wineries of other interesting areas such has Lujan, Maipu and Agrelo.
Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer in the world, and approx. 80% of Argentinean wines come from the Mendoza region. It is an immense region, divided into sub-regions where you can find wines of all kinds. The first vineyards were planted between 1850 and 1900 and the pioneers of oenology were the priests of the Catholic Church. Among the oldest and most emblematic Argentine wineries is Trapiche, founded in 1880.
The city of Mendoza was founded in 1561. For a time it was part of Chile and then passed under the Viceroy of Peru.
The Spanish King Philip II had allowed the production of wine only to the church that needed it for religious services. It was the Jesuits who planted the first vines in Mendoza, in the region of Lujan de Cuyo.
Don Francisco Oreglia
The Salesian priest Francisco Oreglia, considered the father of Argentinian wine, perfected the production of wine introducing modern oenology. In 1965, he founded the Don Bosco School of Oenology, the cradle of great Argentine winemakers.
The cuisine of Mendoza is very traditional, based on pasta, beef, goat, pork and vegetables. One of the most popular dishes in Mendoza is Asado with empanadas and Flan with dulce de leche as dessert.
The asado could include sausages, beef, goat, pork and chicken, but also grilled vegetables and homemade bread. It is said that one of the most important ingredients is the wood fire that is used for cooking.
There are many options to eat, you can get something light like snacks or a 7 course menu with wine pairing.
Most wineries have a restaurant with a chef who challenges the senses with his creations and all the flavors and ingredients that they include in their recipes.
One of the most award-winning chefs is Francis Mallman who owns more than 25 restaurants in Argentina and 5 in Mendoza (1884, Oregano, 7 Fuegos, Ramos Generales and Maria Antonieta).
All of these restaurants have a wide selection of dishes that change every week.
Do not hesitate to contact us you need further information or if you want to book a tour.