Situated on the far western edge of Argentina at the foothills of the eastern Andes, Mendoza is technically a desert town. Though, it's anything but barren. Water courses through the city's many aquecinas, or irrigation ditches, imbuing it with life and energy. Mendoza is small---its population is roughly 120,000 people---but it is lively, characterized by a bustling nightlife, great food, and of course, fantastic wine.
All over the Mendoza is synonymous with world-class vines and wine. Home to roughly 800 vineries, the Mendoza region accounts for roughly two-thirds of Argentina's wine production. So if you're interested in wine tastings and vineyards, Mendoza is the perfect destination.
The Mendoza wine boom began in the 19th century. An influx of immigrants from Southern Europe revitalized old Argentinean wine making traditions, invigorating them with new knowledge and new energy.
At the same time, the establishment of the Buenos Aires-Mendoza railroad in 1885 facilitated easy transportation between the Mendoza region and the capital city, meaning that wine could be more easily exported.
This boom turned the region into the fifth largest wine growing area in the world as well as the first and largest wine growing area in Latin America.
What makes Mendoza's wine so extraordinary? It's a question that most visitors ask. First of all, Mendoza's continental climate and semi-arid desert conditions mean moderate temperatures and an eventful annual growth cycle, conditions that are highly suitable for grapevine growth. Altitude also plays a role.
In the foothills of the Andes and in the shadow of Mt. Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas, most vineyards are located at high altitudes, typically somewhere between 1,800 and 3,600 feet. This altitude is especially conducive when it comes to growing Malbec-- Argentina's best Malbec wines originate in Mendoza's high altitude wine regions of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley.
The bottom line is, if you're a wine lover Mendoza is the place to be. You can relax and take in the beautiful scenery while sipping a glass of world-class wine. Luckily, about 100 of Mendoza's 800 wineries actively accept tourists. So, if you're interested in tours and tastings you're in luck. Here are some of Mendoza's best vineyards.
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By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2014. International Travel Writers.com All rights reserved images and text