Mendoza lies in the heart of Argentina‘s wine country, a vast, lush land of grapevines stretching into the shadows of the majestic Andes.

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December through March coincides with the harvest season, when the fields and the celebrations of horticultural bounty are at their most glorious.

This western Argentine city is the country’s second most visited, because of what surrounds it: the vineyards that make it one of the world’s leading wine regions. The rich purple-black grape Malbec rules, but other varieties abound. Spend your days touring wineries, tasting as many of them as possible.

Still, Mendoza at this time of year is more than just vineyards. It is an effervescent city of music-filled plazas lined with flowering trees and fine restaurants surrounded by intense natural beauty.

Coming at this time also allows you to experience wine country at its best. Harvest season “is the best time to visit because the weather is perfect: dry, hot days and cool nights,” says Argentine Sandra Borello of Borello Travel & Tours. “The grapevines are all dressed with green leaves and adorned with the colorful and tastiest grapes, all with the magnificent white-capped Andes as a backdrop.”

Reserve a few days to fully experience the region and tour wineries, from the bottle-green Maipú Valley and Luján de Cuyo, closer to the city, to the desert where vines emerge like leafy phoenixes from vast, earthy stretches.

Some of the best include the small, family-owned Mendel winery, the welcoming Familia Zuccardi, and Bodegas Salentein, with its modern art gallery inside. Most excursions take in three or four wineries in a day and break for an open-air luncheon of asado—Argentina’s famed grilled meat—amid the rows of grape-laden vines. You’ll while away a few hours in sated (Read more...)

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