Producing over 80% of the country's wine, Mendoza is the most important wine region in Argentina. Mendoza is also the capital of the province of the same name. The winegrowing region now stretches over a large geographical area with very varied soils and mesoclimates.
The city of Mendoza was founded in 1561. It is believed that vines were already planted at that time, imported from earlier expeditions from Spain. Following a turbulent political and economic period for the country, and consequently also for the wine industry, modern winemaking in Mendoza and in Argentina generally did not take off until the 1990s. The first Argentinian appellation was created in 1993 for Luján de Cuyo in the centre of Mendoza.
Mendoza lies in the westernmost part of the country. The average altitude of its vineyards is between 600 and 1 100 metres above sea level. Mendoza is now subdivided into five subregions: North, East, Central, South and Valle de Uco.
In the North, the lowest vineyards in the region are on gentle slopes with sandy soils. Mainly white wines are produced here from Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, Ugni blanc and Torrontés, but also red wines from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda and Malbec. The biggest vineyards and most wineries are located in the East region. All grape varieties are cultivated in this subregion possessing the greatest diversity of climates and soils. The Central region in Mendoza is also the traditional centre of winemaking with the famous appellations Luján de Cuyo and Maipú. Many of Argentina's most highly regarded wineries are based here. Most producers here focus on Malbec. The highest vineyards in Mendoza are in the Valle de Uco subregion. It produces both elegant red wines and crisp white wines.
Mendoza enjoys a continental climate with clearly defined seasons. Although the summer is always hot and sunny, the high altitudes avoid extreme temperatures.
The average rainfall in the summer is 200 mm. This is not sufficient for growing vines so water from the Andes is used for irrigation. Plentiful clean water is obtained from four glacial mountain rivers and numerous wells. Hail in the spring is the biggest climatic risk when growing vines.
Mendoza produces a wide selection of different wines. Thanks to the different climates and grape varieties, wines to suite every taste and price point are available. Mendoza is particularly famous for full-bodied, dense Malbecs with a ripe fruitiness and mild acidity popular with wine aficionados.