Si le vignoble mendocino est devenu depuis une dizaine d’années l’un des plus connus au monde, notamment grâce à une production croissante de crus de qualité, la culture et l’histoire du vin argentin est riche de plusieurs siècles. Temps fort de l’année viticole, la période des vendanges a donné lieu de tous temps à des fêtes qui célèbrent les récoltes, mais aussi la vigne, sa terre, et les hommes qui la travaillent. Autour de Mendoza dans la région du Cuyo , ces célébrations prennent une dimension toute particulière lors de la Vendimia, entre janvier et mars. Cet événement, l’un des plus important autour du vin et de la vigne, mêle musique, danses, défilés traditionnels et, bien entendu, dégustations.
The Vendimia Festival, Mendoza, Argentina
The Vendimia Festival: 3-day trip to live the Grape Harvest Festival at Mendoza vineyards.
For a whole weekend, we propose living the Grape Harvest Festival and visiting some well-treasured wineries in Luján de Cuyo and Maipú, discovering charming Mendoza and staying at the heart of the wine-making lands.
Dates: weekends from the end of January till March.
Hotels: 2 nights at the Chacras de Coria Lodge, Luján de Cuyo.
Wineries to be visited: Decero, Domaine San Diego, Ruca Malén et Benegas.
Price: depends on the number of passengers.
Friday : Bodega Decero, Domaine San Diego and Vía Blanca
Arrival in Mendoza
After a near 1 h 30′ flight you will be arriving in Mendoza. A private chauffeur will be waiting for you at the airport and take you to the Chacras de Coria Lodge. The Chacras de Coria lodge is just a few kilometers from the city, in the wine-producing city of Luján de Cuyo. A true Mediterranean-style haven of peace with pool and spectacular gardens located in the heart of the vineyards at the bottom of the mountains. A truly exciting preview of what is coming up for the weekend!
Lunch at Decero winery
Once settled at the lodge, you will visit the Decero winery located in Luján de Cuyo. This destination, together with Maipú, make up the most praised wine-making region in Argentina. Located near Mendoza, the region is where most of Mendoza’s wineries are concentrated and has been the first to introduce quality treatment into the Argentine vineyards in the 1980’s. The tour to the vineyards is also completed by the wonderful views of the Andean mountain tops that serve as frames to these delightful gardens. The tour-guide is a wine specialist and expert in the region, so you’ll be quite entertained with his stories about the land, the vineyards, and more. The Decero winery, though young, has a strong presence already. It has been set up in the year 2000 over those then virgin lands, launched the first bottles to the market in 2008, and has a production it can be highly proud of. The winery, which has an amazing view of the mountain range, offers exquisite facilities for an excellent culinary break. Note: besides the regular grape varieties like Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec, or Syrah, the Petit Verdot can also be found there.
Visit to the Domaine San Diego winery
After lunch, you will leave Luján de Cuyo to get to know the Maipú region and another winery: Domaine San Diego. Located in a small green valley, these facilities devote some hectares to produce high-quality wine, made by one of the most famous enologist in Argentina: Ángel Mendoza. In 1988, he decided, together with his sons, to develop a very confidential production in three hectares of a land that has been used for making wines for over 300 years. The owners of the facilities will welcome you and take you into a wine-tasting tour around the winery to see how the Malbec, Cabernet and the Sauvignon are produced. A highly privileged experience in a unique winery.
You will be taken to the hotel in the evening after having experienced this first day in the Argentine wine world plenty of new discoveries, gastronomy and wonderful views. You may choose to have dinner at the hotel (not included) or at a nice place in the city of Mendoza. You will then be ready to enjoy the beginning of the grape harvest festival: the Vía Blanca. From 10 pm, the 18 representatives of the several departments come to the streets in a parade to compete for the Grape Harvest Festival crown. The preparations towards the finale on Saturday evening are a total frenzy. Each department put the best on display to win the competition. The queens and competitors throw fruit to the crowd onboard their floats, as per tradition. After this show, the chauffeur will take you back to the hotel.
Saturday: Carrousel, Mendoza and Main Ceremony
You have already spent your first night at the vineyards. After breakfast, your chauffeur will take you to the following stage of the festival: The Queens’ Carousel. As from 10 am, the 18 competitors come to the streets again, but this time accompanied by the famous gauchos or old horse-driven carriages which are an icon of the region’s history and culture. There is a crowd of over 200,000 people gathered on the streets over 5km to enjoy the parade and the party all around the city… Near the park gate you will be comfortably seated to enjoy the whole show of music, dance, gauchos, amazing floats and grape queens.
Visit to the city of Mendoza
After having found a good place to eat –abundant in Mendoza- you will meet your tour-guide to go around the city. This city, with over five centuries of history, is currently praised for its colonial architecture, cheerful atmosphere, and great shadow-flooded square that reminds tourists of those of Spain. The tour sets out at Plaza Independencia, the main square, the main meeting point among the people of Mendoza, to continue down the four squares around the center of Mendoza, specially the nice Plaza España. Then, you will be taken to the San Francisco basilica to end the tour at the San Martín park, designed by French landscaper Charles Thays.
After having gone around the streets of Mendoza you may opt to go back to the hotel for a rest or continue sightseeing. At around 8 pm you will be picked up for the most important moment of the weekend and the festival: the Main Ceremony (Acto Central). This ceremony, prepared for and waited the whole year, is the height of the celebrations and takes place at the Frank Romero Day Greek Theater. The theater, built over a natural amphitheater, has capacity for 22,000 people. The remaining crowd can enjoy the ceremony from good spots over the surrounding hills. You will be seated exactly in front of the stage and enjoy a gastronomy fest especially prepared for you, accompanied by white and red wine and champagne.
About 10 pm is the beginning of this unbounded, outstanding and amazing show. Numbers speak for themselves: dozens of dancers, hundreds of secondary artists and a 900m2 stage where a particularly rich choreography of sound and light is displayed. The performance tells the story of the vineyard, the many troubles encountered and the joy of those men devoted to grape-growing. An allegory, ode to wine and the land. The show progressively becomes more intense with shocking and emotional scenes to conclude with a great finale. After 2 h 30’ of magic, it’s time for the election of the wine queen. Fireworks are set to end the night while the new queen is applauded by the whole crowd.
Sunday: Bodegas Ruca Malen and Benegas wineries
After all the festival party you will be taken back to the calmness of Chacras de Coria. Surrender to the pleasure of having breakfast at the hotel terrace under a fresh shadow and by the pool. You will then be taken by your chauffeur to try new gastronomy and enologic adventures.
Lunch at the Ruca Malén winery
This French-Argentine project created in 1998 in Luján de Cuyo – bodega Ruca Malén – is one of the greatest icons of Argentine wine. Upon completing the tour to the wineries, you will have a 5-stage lunch and wine tasting including the Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Tempranillo grape varieties. The menu includes leek bruschettas, small squash soup or Argentine meat steak, accompanied by Kinien, Yauquén and Ruca Malén wines, the three labels of this winery. A pleasure for the palate, the eyes… And besides the outstanding gastronomy, the place is notable for the astonishing view of the Andean mountain range.
Visit to the Benegas winery
After visiting the Ruca Malén winery, you will set off to the last winery visit, on the frontier between Luján and Maipú. Built up in 1901 by Agustín Álvarez, the then governor of Mendoza, the winery has preserved, over its 40 hectares, handmade production methods. The Benegas family, all descendants from pioneer enologists, continues with the family passion. A trip back to the essence, the region roots…
After visiting the winery, the tour-guide will enlighten you on the peculiarities of the Chardonnay, Cabernet, Malbec, Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot and Petit Verdot wines.