Getting over to the Uco Valley (Vallee de Uco) was well worth it. It is actually the closest part of the Mendoza wine region to the Andes so the scenery is dramatic, at any time of year. Just when we thought we’d got all those fabulous vineyard and mountain shots, the Uco was even more stunning.
The wow factor for us was Bodegas Salentein. It is an impressive large-scale winery, with all the modern technology, and unlike some of the others I visited, it has the tourist experience perfected.
It reminded me, once again on this trip, of what foreign investment is doing for Argentina’s wine country. Salentein is owned by a wealthy Dutch family who also have interests in the country’s fruit exports. It is a 5,000 acre estate, and one of three wineries (the other two are Kilka and Posada) which were established by the family 13 years ago. At the time, Salentein was one of the first big wineries in Argentina.
At Bodegas Salentein they have organized tours in several languages. Be sure to make a reservation, like most wineries here you can’t just turn up at the tasting room. Here you’ll also find a restaurant and gallery featuring Argentinian artist and sculptors.
The winery is on two levels, and is designed with gravity in mind. On the first level there are the vat rooms and machinery, below are the cellars and believe it or not, a grand piano and concert venue among the winery’s best barrels.
This was a great experience, although not personalized like some of the winery visits I’m used to, I have to say it was one of the wow factors of our trip to Argentina. I think the combination of the stunning scenery, impressive scale and incorporation of art and music made this visit quite special.
Expert tip: Plan to visit around lunch time so you can also enjoy lunch at the restaurant. Like most of our driving experiences around the wineries in Mendoza, we found the Uco Valley a little tricky to get to. Be sure to really understand the maps before you leave your hotel. It is about 65 miles from Mendoza.
9/10 Overall visitor experience
7/10 Knowledge of guide
9/10 Architecture and design, landscaping
8/10 Other experiences: restaurant
N/A Knowledge of tasting room staff (There is no tasting room)
8/10 Friendliness of staff
7/10 Signage & ease of access
9/10 Quality of the wines poured
Appointment required: Yes
Overall visitor experience: Excellent
Reservations required: Yes
Wines: 80% red wines from Malbec, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. White wines include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Review date: May 8, 2013