Argentina is at the southern tip of the world yet often at the center of the cultural crossroads of Europe and Latin America, as evidenced by the British, French and Italian influences throughout the country, including architecture, food and culture. From the bustling cosmopolitan capital city, Buenos Aires, to the majestic mountainous wine region of Mendoza, Argentina has much to offer those with a refined palate and sense of adventure. On this LA Times Expedition, start your journey in Buenos Aires with a culinary cultural experience, then travel to the fabled Pampas for a gaucho ranch adventure. Next, fly to Mendoza, Argentina’s world-famous wine region. Discover why the geography and topography are now producing some outstanding varieties of wine by exploring the vineyards, learning about wine production and, of course, savoring the end result. Neither amateurs nor self-proclaimed experts will be disappointed.
Sep 22-29, 2019
Set out on a culinary tour of Buenos Aires that highlights the many international influences characterizing the city: from meat markets to cafe culture to empanadas.
Travel to the Pampas for a truly Argentine gaucho adventure, with cattle, horses and barbecue.
Visit the Mendoza wine region and discover why the Bordeaux blends have produced world-famous Malbec with a trip to four distinctive vineyards: Benegas, Lagarde, Monteviejo and DiamAndes.
Test your skills at a hands-on cooking class to create regional dishes using local ingredients while in the stunning foothills of the Andes.
Arrive in Buenos Aires, an elegant, cosmopolitan city with a European flavor and friendly atmosphere. Dive right into city culture with an afternoon culinary tour. Sample local favorites such as empanadas, or learn more about the influence of French cuisine by visiting a bakery and trying medialunas, croissants’ little cousins. Cafe culture abounds on the streets of Buenos Aires, so sip specialty coffee while enjoying dulce de leche gelato. Walk off your treats with a visit to the famed Recoleta Cemetery, one of the world’s most extraordinary graveyards, with more than 6,400 grandiose mausoleums. The exclusive cemetery is the last stop for the country’s most celebrated (and controversial) presidents, intellectuals, army generals and entertainers. The cemetery most famously holds the remains of actress-turned-first lady Evita — Eva Perón. Celebrate your first night in Buenos Aires with a fantastic meal at one of the city’s popular restaurants. (R, D)
After breakfast, discover why Buenos Aires is an international capital. Understand the city’s development by exploring diverse neighborhoods, each with its own history and culture: Visit the neoclassical main square that is home to the Presidential Palace, the Casa Rosada; the narrow cobbled streets of the former industrial neighborhood of San Telmo; the bright-colored Italian immigrant community of La Boca; and the elegant Barrio Norte neighborhood. Go to a meat market and talk to local vendors, see tango on the street, stroll by stately mansions and browse bookstores while learning about the literary genius of Andrés Bello and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Learn about Argentina’s history through art, literature, architecture and European influences. This evening, discover Buenos Aires on your own. (B)
Head out of the city to the traditional gaucho town of San Antonio de Areco. On your way, stop at a silversmith workshop and meet with the artisans who continue to make works sought after by royalty and the most distinguished collectors. Then arrive at a late-colonial-style estancia (ranch) and be treated to a typical Argentine barbecue of fine beef — asado — and wines. Learn more about gaucho history and culture, and try your hand at horseback riding, or take a horse-drawn carriage on the grounds. Enjoy the views and flavors of the plains — las pampas — for a truly Argentine experience. (B, L)
After breakfast, finish exploring Buenos Aires on your own before departing after lunch for the airport to take an internal flight to Mendoza. Blessed by rich sunlight and a panorama of snow-filled mountains, the Mendoza province dominates Argentina’s winemaking industry and is one of the world’s most successful wine regions. Mendoza City is considered the gourmet destination in Argentina where wine bars, innovative restaurants and gourmet food producers cater to the international wine enthusiast with a desire to explore. After checking in to your hotel, enjoy a special welcome dinner and wine tasting at a local winemaker’s home. An informal discussion over food and wine will reveal little-known industry facts. (B, D)
Set out for a full day of wine tasting and exploration outside of Mendoza City in the regions of Luján de Cuyo and Maipú. Malbec, Argentina’s flagship wine, is earning international prestige. The grape, originally famed for the Bordeaux blends of France, has found its home in the ideal terroirs of Mendoza for more than 140 years. Learn not only about the wines themselves, but also the agricultural techniques and irrigation systems that date to pre-colonial settlements. Visit the Benegas Winery for a tour of the property and tasting. Benegas is one of the oldest wineries in the country, dating back almost 100 years. The winery is best known for its Cabernet Franc. Next, visit the Lagarde Winery, surrounded by century-old Malbec vines. Weather permitting, have lunch alfresco, enjoying the best of local ingredients. Return to Mendoza, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. (B, L)
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and drive to the stunning Uco Valley. Nestled at the foot of the Andes mountain range, the valley is widely considered one of the top wine regions in Argentina. The climate and geography provide for optimal wine and excellent views. Today, enjoy a special hands-on cooking class to prepare regional specialties, including empanadas, using local meats and vegetables that are baked in a traditional clay oven. Of course, wine will be part of your class too. Then check in to your hotel on an exclusive estancia. Stroll the impressive property, which includes award-winning art gallery Kilka. (B, L)
After breakfast, depart for Clos de los Siete — an amazing collection of four French winemakers originally from Bordeaux. Each of the wineries is marked by its distinctive architecture. Start at Monteviejo, under the direction of winemaker Marcelo Pelleriti. Learn about the gravitational system that selects and collects grapes and berries. Next, visit DiamAndes, owned by the Bonnie family, renowned for the Château Malartic-Lagravière estate that produces Grand Cru Classé de Graves. After a tour of the vineyard, savor a special farewell lunch using the best products of the region and inspired French delicacies. In the afternoon, return to the hotel. Later in the evening, gather over drinks to discuss your experience and your plans to return. (B, L)
Check out of your hotel, and drive back to Mendoza City to connect to your flight back to Buenos Aires. (B)