Malbec may be Mendoza’s flagship grape, but the region’s snow-kissed mountains, blue skies and dusty earth define the landscape. Wine producers try to tame it with neat rows of vines, but the wild spirit of the Andes resounds.
To best experience the area, hop on a horse as a gaucho would and roam through vineyards while you enjoy the region’s wines. You’ll feel connected to the magnificent intersection of animal, nature and mankind.
There are several ways to saddle up, either with tour operators or wineries. One of the most well-regarded is Trout and Wine Tours, based in Mendoza, which offers a “Horseriding Through the Vineyards” experience. The 90-minute trek meanders through Maipú, a subregion 40 minutes south of Mendoza city, in Lunlunta. Your steed: a sturdy Argentine Criollo to carry you between Malbec vines. Post-trot, tuck into an asado lunch with wine pairings at the restaurant and cellar inside ex-Governor Emilio Jofre’s mansion.
For a high-altitude excursion, contact Walter Scibilia-Campana. The guide and winemaker refers to his farm, where you can stay overnight, as “un lugar en los Andes,” or a “place in the Andes.” Though not affiliated with a specific winery, he’s often employed by top producers to take guests through stunning sections of the foothills.
If you prefer a beautiful winery vista, head to Uco Valley. This fine-wine region known for high-elevation, cool-climate Malbec features several producers that run trips. François Lurton, a member of the iconic Bordeaux family, founded Piedra Negra here. The site was selected for its gravelly soils. With advance reservation, riders can head out on horseback along the road behind the winery in full view of the majestic Andes. Afterward, make sure to taste the estate’s range of bottlings, from Malbec to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Domaine Bousquet offers an array of activities beyond wine tasting that include a photo safari. Its “Horseback Ride and Lunch” tour features trail walks through vineyards, followed by a four-course menu paired with wine. The entire affair requires about three-and-a-half hours.
Magnificent architecture and scenery at Bodegas Salentein provide a stunning setting to a tasting and riding adventure. The winery features a beginner jaunt that skirts adjacent Finca la Pampa farm, blessed with a backdrop of craggy peaks as eye candy. Your guide will bring a bottle of Salentein sparkling wine along to offer tastes, sipped carefully, on the gentle amble. The adventure wraps up at the winery, where you can sample more of the winery’s selections.
If you’re not up to piece together an entire program, reach out to Black Tomato for a nuts-to-bolts tour. The experience-driven company’s “Tasting Notes Itinerary of Argentina with Fernando Trocca” was designed in collaboration with the renowned Argentine chef. Highlights include blending your own wine, replete with personalized label, and sunset horseback rides. —Lauren Mowery