Enjoy a full scale immersion in the wine and culture of Argentina with this 7-day wine tour from Salta to Mendoza.
Your journey begins in Salta, home of the highest altitude wine region in the world, and follows the iconic Route 40 south, hugging the scenic road close to the Andes mountains. Travel through the emerging wine regions of Tucuman, Catamarca and La Rioja, and on into the heart of the Argentine wine country, San Juan and Mendoza.
Mendoza is well known as the centre of Argentina's wine region, and Salta is no longer a secret among the wine connoiseurs, famous for its crisp white Torrontes. But many of Argentina’s burgeoning and dynamic small vineyards, not to mention the most romantic and small scale, are off the beaten track outside the main wine regions.
This trip links Salta and Mendoza through the lesser known wine areas of Catamarca and La Rioja. Well away from the crowds, you will follow the wine valley extending 1,200km from Salta down into the traditional heartland of Mendoza, through some breathtaking scenery close to the Andes. Along the way you’ll be visiting large and small vineyards, and tasting not just the wine but the pre-Hispanic and contemporary culture, of this richly varied nation.
Day 1: South from Salta city, pass through the tobacco region of the Valle de Lerma up the verdant green mountain road of the Cuesta del Obispo to the Parque Nacional de los Cardones, and on into the Valles Calchaquies, home to the highest altitude wine region in the world. The signature grape variety here is Torrontes, and in Salta it finds its best expression.
Visit Cachi, a delightful town with a view of the snow-topped mountains and a simple church with a cactus wood roof, to taste the Torrontes, and an unusual (for Salta) Merlot, normally associated with the Chilean neighbours.
Then continue onto Molinos, home of the last Royalist governor of this part of South America under Spanish rule. You can visit the local museum and church in this historic colonial town where little seems to have changed through the centuries before continuing to your overnight stop in Colome, the highest altitude wine resort in the world.
Day 2: Colome is the bold venture of Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess, and it is also home to the excellent James Turrell art museum. Relax here during the morning, tasting some of the single variety Malbecs grown from different vineyards at altitudes ranging from 1,700m to 2,600m.
After lunch, travel south down the iconic Route 40 through the Quebrada de las Flechas, where you can take a walk in the midst of this breathtaking jagged desert landscape, fashioned from ancient quartz, limestone and sandstone rock. Arrive in Cafayate, Salta’s premier wine town.
Day 3: Spend a full day exploring the vineyards of Cafayate, including some still run by local families whose ancestors migrated here in the early 20th century, like the Nanni family from Rosciolo, Abruzzo, who still run the vineyard of the same name. One of their award winning varieties is Tannat, a deep robust red which first found popularity in Uruguay but has now been refined in Argentina, and perfectly accompanies the traditional Argentine asado.
Talking of award winners, Finca las Nubes' Torrontes won a silver medal in the Decanter Wine Awards of 2018. This is also a great spot to enjoy a nice lunch of local goat's cheese and salami while looking out over Cafayate valley. Other great vineyards here are El Porvenir, Esteco, Domingo Molina and San Pedro de Yacochuya.
Day 4: Today you will discover Northern Argentina's rich history. Going south into Tucuman province, you’ll visit the ruins of Quilmes, where local guides will tell you the gripping and tragic tale of how this indigenous tribe resisted the invasion until they were finally, cruelly, broken. The Pachamama museum is an impressive monument to pre-Hispanic culture designed by self-taught artist Hector Cruz. Tucuman is also home to the new vineyard of Las Arcas which has already won awards for its Malbec, Torrontes and Tannat reserve. Then we head South into the province of Catamarca, almost off the tourist radar: it’s a place of rustic charm known for its textile weaving and small family run vineyards. Try the Barbera produced by Augustine monks in Santa Maria de Yokavil, and the wines from a local co-operative in Hualfin, bringing together small producers in the southern part of the Valles Calchaquies.
Day 5: Catamarca is home to the most important Inca ruins in Argentina: Shinkal. After an exploration of the ruins, travel along the Ruta de Adobe with its historic 18th century adobe chapels, to discover two of the jewels of Catamarca in Fiambala, Don Diego and Cabernet de los Andes. Don Diego has varieties of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Malbec, while at Cabernet de los Andes, founded by the legendary Argentine winemaker Carlos Arizu, you can taste Plenilunio, an organic Malbec made from grapes harvested at full moon.
After visiting the pretty town of Tinogasta, you take a rough road across the mountains to our overnight stop, Chañarmuyo, a relatively new vineyard in La Rioja renowned for its variety of Tannat.
Day 6: After a morning stroll around the vineyard, you head to the hub of La Rioja’s wine industry, Chilecito: “little Chile”, named after the immigrants who arrived from the other side of the Andes to work in the mining industry. Chilecito is the home of La Riojana, a co-operative which brings together more than 450 small wine producers. In this case, quantity definitely doesn’t mean a lack of quality: these are wines you can buy in your local Co-op, but seven of them were commended in the 2018 Decanter awards.
After a wine tasting, take the breathtaking winding mountain road of the Cuesta de Miranda down to Villa Union, a quiet town with a view of the Andes mountains. With an extra night here, this is an excellent jumping off spot for visits to nearby national park of Talampaya and the Valle de la Luna (Ischigualasto).
Day 7: Head south into the province of San Juan, known for its Syrah and the biggest wine-growing region in Argentina after Mendoza. In San Juan city, visit its oldest established winery, founded in 1870 by the penniless Italian immigrant Santiago Graffigna.
After lunch, you will visit a couple of the new boutique vineyards which have recently sprung up on the road to Mendoza, the heart of Argentina’s wine region where you will finish this amazing journey.
- Airport/Hotel drop-off in Mendoza
- Winery visits
- Admission to museums and natural monuments
- Transportation in 4x4 or 4x2 vehicle
- Hotel pick-up in Salta
- Bilingual tour guide
- Indigenous guides at Shinkal and Quilmes
- Wine tastings
- Any personal expenses
Your centrally located accommodation in Salta.
25% of the reservation is refundable up until 2 months before departure time. Non refundable for cancellations occurring 14 days before departure time. In the case of Covid-related cancellations, the amount is held as a credit for a future tour.