It’s remoteness is part of its charm. Anthony Rose heads into the foothills of the Andes to explore the back-to-nature delights of Argentina, in his Uco Valley travel guide.
Uco Valley: Where to stay, eat and relax
In a rural setting of outstanding natural beauty with woods, ponds, lakes and streams, the owners Jean Dunonceau and his wife Chantal have created a magical spot where three lodges, each with two ensuite rooms, blend rusticity and Mendozan style with the personal touch. Hike, play golf, go horse riding, visit the trout farm and dine at El Rincón.
Pablo Cerrutti and Sergio Viegas, both from Buenos Aires, created Tupungato Divino in 2006 because it’s a great place to live. Four cabines within 5ha (hectares) are accompanied by a cosy restaurant with log fire, winery and wine shop. They make 100 litres a year from the vineyards as a hobby.
The Dutch-owned Bodega Salentein is the tranquil home to Posada Salentein, an exclusive estancia at Los Arboles in Tunuyán. It has 16 doubles surrounded by vineyards, along with a restaurant and patio for barbecues and enjoying wine.
In 40ha of land, the four-star Fuente Mayor Hotel & Resort is on Route 92 in Vista Flores 90 minutes south of Mendoza City. It is large for Uco, with 90 rooms and four cabins, along with a restaurant, spa and a casino.
Casa Antucura Wine Lodge
Antucura is a luxury inn set in its own vineyards near Vista Flores with eight elegant rooms, breathtaking views, a restaurant and outdoor pool. It’s an ideal springboard for wine tours by bicycle, rafting, horse riding and a visit to Diamante Lake with its water like jade.
A respite from beef, the family-run Ilo in Tupungato is a remarkable oasis of seafood in the Andean semi-desert. Specialities include tuna, sole, black hake, pollock, salmon, and all manner of Pacific and Atlantic shellfish, along with an extensive local wine list.
+ 54 (0)2622 488323
For the best grill in town, the unpretentious but aptly named El Cielo, meaning heaven, is where the locals eat. The fresh salad of mixed leaves, avocado, palm hearts and gherkins is good, but the centerpiece is the gargantuan 500g sirloin steak.
+54 (0)2622 470814
La Posada del Jamón
Miguel Cairo and Mabel Bordoy’s La Posada del Jamón specialises in succulently juicy ribs, sausages, home-cured jamón and fresh, melt-in-the-mouth black pudding. It also has cabins simply and comfortably furnished.
In Andeluna Cellars in Gualtallary you can watch the chef and staff orchestrate a menu of tortellini, tenderloin beef and bitter chocolate pudding, or eat on the terrace with great views of the Cordillera. Booking advised.
The Vines of Mendoza
Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos barbecues have been held regularly during the 2013 harvest season in anticipation of his eponymous restaurant due to open later this year along with The Vines Resort & Spa.
Urban en O Fournier
Urban by name only (above), this is Argentina with a Spanish accent. José Manuel Ortega’s wife Nadia, a gifted cook with an eponymous restaurant in Chacras de Coria in Mendoza, oversees the menu using fresh local ingredients. The ice cream, pastry, bread and pasta are all hand-made. There are also seven rural cottages with private bathrooms.
A recent addition to the Uco restaurant scene at Vista Flores, La Juntada offers traditional food using local products. It has the same owners as the traditional Almacén de Uco in Manzano Histórico, which is open on Sundays and is always full thanks to its home-cooked grilled goat, lamb, beef and empanadas.
How to get there:
Fly to Mendoza via Buenos Aires or Santiago (20 hours from London). Tunuyán, in the centre of the Uco Valley, is a 90-minute drive (82km) from Mendoza City. For more information,