Whether you're a seasoned sommelier, a burgeoning wine enthusiast, or a regular Jane or Joe with a taste for good reds—Argentina and Chile are calling. When taken together, these two nations represent the Mecca of wine production in South America. On this epic 10-day enology tour you will visit the best wine-producing regions in both countries and tour the vineyards that produce their most famous varietals. And of course, each day there will be copious tastings.

Highlights

  • Go on a tasting excursion to the most famous wine regions in Chile
  • Tour the most prominent wine-producing areas in Argentina: Maipú Valley and Luján de Cuyo
  • Explore Aconcagua National Park, just outside Mendoza
  • Make a high-altitude journey by bus over the Andes Mountains from Argentina to Chile

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Santiago! Santiago
Day 2 Wine Tour of Cachapoal Valley Santiago
Day 3 Concha y Toro Vineyard Tour Santiago
Day 4 Maipo Valley Wine Tour Santiago
Day 5 Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina Mendoza
Day 6 Mendoza Wine Tour Mendoza
Day 7 Full-Day Mendoza Vineyards Tour Mendoza
Day 8 High Mountain Full-Day Tour Mendoza
Day 9 Bus Excursion Back to Santiago. Santiago
Day 10 Goodbye Santiago  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Santiago!

Santiago de Chile
Santiago de Chile

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, the most magnificent viewpoint in Santiago. When visiting any new city it's a good idea to get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 850 meters (2,788 feet) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. Enjoy the reconnoitering, and if you aren't the hiking type not to worry: you can catch a scenic gondola to the top.

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian. Brightly painted old houses adorned with graffiti art sit alongside modern shopping complexes featuring an eclectic array of eateries, cafés, and bars. It's a great place to come for dinner out, a glass or two of Chilean red, and people watching from a patio table. 

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas, located in Santiago's historic center. There's a lot of history within the four corners of this expansive stone plaza, as it was founded all the way back in 1541. Its antiquity is exemplified by the Iglesia San Francisco, whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza. This Franciscan church was consecrated in 1622 and is one of the oldest colonial buildings in the country.

  • Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is just a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas, and like the plaza, it's filled with history. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Today the country is under democratic rule, and visitors are welcome to visit the palace. 

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews) and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Wine Tour of Cachapoal Valley

Time for wine tasting in Chile!
Time for wine tasting in Chile!

In the morning you'll depart from your hotel by private transfer and head south about 85 km (53 miles) to the Cachapoal Valley wine region. This is one of the most beautiful and fertile provinces of central Chile. The weather conditions here—heavy rains in winter and high heat in summer—make this an ideal valley in which to grow wine grapes, most notably Chile's flagship varietal: Carmenere.

Eventually, you'll arrive at Requinoa, a small farming town located in the heart of the valley, close to the city of Rancagua. You will meet a guide who will provide an overview of the culture and wines of the area. You will then visit two vineyards and tour the facilities while learning about the production process as well as the different varietals they produce.

Around noon you'll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant accompanied, of course, by just the sort of wine you experienced in the valley. The tour continues in the afternoon as you journey further south to a third vineyard, where the order of the day will be more touring, learning, and tasting.

Day 3: Concha y Toro Vineyard Tour

Tour the vineyards
Tour the vineyards

In the morning a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to wine country. The destination today is the town of Pirque, located about an hour south of Santiago. This is where you'll find the showcase vineyard and family estate of Concha y Toro. Currently, Concha y Toro is the largest producer of wine in Latin America, and they export their popular brands to over 130 countries.

The tour begins in the Casa Patronal, the company's main estate, which is notable for its beautiful green grounds and tranquil pond. You will visit the vineyards and stroll among the rows of grapes that comprise these internationally known wines. Then you'll enter the production facilities and observe the process that results in all those famous bottles, including the most famous Chilean wine of all: Casillero del Diablo. There's a legend to this particular Concha y Toro brand that you'll learn about on the tour. The tale dates back over 130 years and involves the devil himself guarding the family's wine cellar against theft. 

Finally, it's time for a tasting of Concha y Toro's most famous varietals. If a sampling isn't enough then an added visit to the vineyard's wine shop will allow you to purchase more bottles either for yourself or as gifts. The tour finishes with a return to your hotel in Santiago, where you're free to enjoy the remainder of the day as you please.

Day 4: Maipo Valley Wine Tour

Grapes on the vine
Grapes on the vine

The Valle de Maipo (Maipo Valley) is another rich wine-producing region in central Chile. The great thing about this one is that it's located the shortest distance from the capital. So in the morning, you'll depart from your hotel on a journey of just a few minutes to this hotbed of viniculture.

This day's tour covers the history of wine and the almost magical art that goes into its production. The scenery adds to the experience as you find yourself amid the fertile green valley and imposing Andes Mountains. You will visit two prestigious vineyards here, with options including the Viña Cousiño MaculViña Undurraga, and others.

Whichever vineyards you tour, you can rest assured you'll be tasting the best Maipo wines featuring unique bouquets and flavor profiles. The tour to both wineries covers every aspect of production, from the grape to the bottle. You'll also have the opportunity to pair the wines you sample with tasty tidbits like fine cheeses. Finally, in the afternoon you will return to your hotel in Santiago.

Day 5: Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina

The vineyards of Mendoza
The vineyards of Mendoza

Now that you've discovered the prized vineyards of Chile's wine country, it's time to visit another globally renowned viticulture region: Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza itself is a city located adjacent to the Chilen border in western Argentina; however, the valleys surrounding this sleepy metropolis produce some of the most epic wines anywhere. Malbec is one such varietal you've likely heard of, as it has put Argentina on the wine-producing map. It's true that the majority of Malbec in the country is grown in and around Mendoza.

Today, a driver will pick you up and transport you to Santiago International Airport. You'll hop the short flight to Mendoza and upon arrival transfer to your hotel. Even though you're here for the wine, we recommend getting out and exploring the city. Mendoza's downtown features expansive plazas and wide boulevards shaded by canopies of bushy green sycamores. The difference in energy between the capital of Buenos Aires and Mendoza is night and day—here people move at a relaxed pace, making this the perfect city to enjoy a tranquil stroll.

Some suggested activities around town include: 

  • Stroll one of Mendoza's famous parks. One of the most popular meeting spots for locals is Plaza Independencia. It features impressive fountains and is speckled with elegant acacia and tall plane trees. Parque General San Martín is the most impressive park in the city, as its well-manicured grounds dotted with palms were designed by the famous Argentine landscape architect Charles Thays (who also designed the most famous parks in Buenos Aires). 

  • Visit a museum. There are a few in Mendoza. One recommended option is the Museo del Pasado Cuyano, which features many exhibits on the history of Mendoza as well as collections of weapons from the independence era.

  • Enjoy the local cuisine. Mendoza sits in the middle of the rugged countryside at the foot of the Andes. So as you'd expect the fare here tends to be rustic. That said, you'll find a wide variety of eateries and many high-end options too. There's none more famous and revered than 1884, the flagship restaurant of legendary Argentine chef Francis Mallman, who revolutionized the technique of cooking over an open flame. The food here is heavy on grilled meat and can best be described as "haute country." This is one of the most popular restaurants in Argentina, so be prepared to splurge.

Day 6: Mendoza Wine Tour

Ready for the bottle
Ready for the bottle

It's time to get out and explore beyond the city while discovering the region's wine culture. On this circuit, you'll visit the most famous wine destinations around Mendoza, from the area around the town of Luján de Cuyo to the fertile soil of the Maipú Valley. It's a fun-filled excursion that mixes equal parts wine history with wine tasting.

First the history. Over the course of the tour, you will glean insight into how Mendoza rose over the centuries to become Argentina's premier wine-making region. It began with immigrants who settled here and utilized knowledge of irrigation techniques (canals and ditches) handed down from the Huarpe indigenous people. It was through these methods that the Huarpes transformed a vast desert into a productive oasis. The end result is that this region is now home to renowned wineries producing high-quality varietals that are deservedly famous on the global viniculture stage.

You'll visit two wineries that still rely on traditional irrigation methods as well as others that use the latest technology in the winemaking process. On tours of the bodegas' facilities, you'll learn about vinification methods, processing, bottling, and even the labeling of wines. Of course, this is all accompanied by a tasting of the different varietals these bodegas offer. You'll also get to sample locally grown olives, artisanal cheeses, and eat Malbec grapes right off the vine!

Day 7: Full-Day Mendoza Vineyards Tour

Tour the vineyards and taste the wines
Tour the vineyards and taste the wines

Today you will embark on a guided tour of two distinct wine-producing areas around Mendoza: the Maipú Valley and the town of Lujan de Cuyo. Both are near to the city—Maipú is located a mere 20 km (12 miles) away, while Lujan de Cuyo is located directly adjacent to Mendoza in the south.

The first winery tour includes a presentation on the viniculture process with a subsequent tasting. The second tour includes another tasting as well as more education about wine development. Lunch will be served in the winery's warehouse, where you will enjoy a gourmet menu paired with some of the best wines from the cellar.

Afterward, you will visit two more wineries before ending the day's excursion. With a full stomach and a head swirling with all the delicious varietals of Mendoza, you can spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening relaxing while enjoying your hotel's amenities.

Day 8: High Mountain Full-Day Tour

Into the Andes
Into the Andes

Today you'll explore the untamed landscapes and historic sites found just outside the city of Mendoza. The tour starts early, as there's a lot of ground to cover. After pickup outside your hotel, you'll drive along the Mendoza River and enjoy great views of the Cordón del Plata mountain range, a subset of the Andes that is a popular trekking destination. You'll also pass by the Potrerillos Dam, which is notable for distributing all the water for the vineyards of the region. It's also home to hydroelectric power plants that produce 20% of the energy Mendoza consumes.

You'll continue on to Uspallata, a pre-Hispanic indigenous settlement, which at one point was the southernmost territory of the Inca Empire. There are archeological remains here, including the Bóvedas de Uspallata, a series of conical-shaped smelting furnaces built by the Jesuits in the 17th century. Then you'll head to the villages of Picheuta, Polvaredas, Punta de Vacas, and the Los Penitentes ski resort, where you can hop on a chairlift up to a summit featuring panoramic views of the area.

Later, drive to the Puente del Inca, a natural arch that forms a bridge over the Las Cuevas River. You'll now be on the ascent as you climb 2,750 meters (9,022 feet) above sea level to a viewpoint at Cerro Aconcagua. At 6,962 meters (22,841 feet), this is the highest mountain in the Americas. Other highlights include a visit to the glacial lake of Laguna Horcones.

Your final destination on the day's adventure is the European-style village of Las Cuevas, located just before the Chilean border at 3,200 meters (10,498 feet) above sea level. Between Las Cuevas and the international tunnel to Chile, there is a path that leads to Christ the Redeemer of the Andes. This monument sits at 3,832 meters (12,572 feet) above sea level and symbolizes the union between Argentines and Chileans.

Day 9: Bus Excursion Back to Santiago.

Cristo Redentor tunnel, ar the border between Chile and Argentina
Cristo Redentor tunnel, ar the border between Chile and Argentina

The Argentine wine experience has now come to a close, and it's time to return to Santiago de Chile. At the scheduled time, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the bus terminal. You will then hop a bus bound for Santiago.

On this scenic eight-hour drive you will travel over the Andes and enjoy views of sweeping, high-altitude mountain landscapes. The route passes through Aconcagua National Park, and its painted mountains and snow-capped peaks will be on display. Moreover, as you ascend from Mendoza you'll pass the tiny, postcard-worthy towns of Potrerillos and Uspallata.

The famous Cristo Redentor tunnel marks the actual border between the two countries, which is officially called Paso Internacional los Libertadores. Here you'll find a large monument featuring a crucifix-bearing Christ with flags representing both Argentina and Chile flanking its base. You are now leaving Argentina and entering Chile. 

The mountain roads that take you between these two countries are indeed filled with twists and turns. This is never more prominent than once you reach the harrowing 29 Curves portion of the journey. It's the most famous section of the route, as it features a steep downhill drive comprised of narrow switchbacks whose many curves do indeed total 29. If you want a singular experience, sit near the front of the bus so you can view the descent through the windshield—it will appear as if you're dropping off the face of the earth.

Upon reaching the bus station in Santiago, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.

Day 10: Goodbye Santiago

Goodbye, Chile!
Goodbye, Chile!

With your taste buds tantalized and your thirst for the great wines of South America now quenched, it's time to say goodbye to Chile and Argentina. At the scheduled hour, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport. And while this particular journey is coming to an end, know that these two countries will be waiting with open arms anytime you'd like to return and continue the adventure.