Turn left before the gauchos: Casa de Uco

Written for Great Wine Capitals

The best way to experience Mendoza is out in the vineyards overlooking the awesome Andes mountains, and the ultimate spot that combines the life of the vineyards with the remoteness and grandeur of the Andes is the Uco Valley.

Since I moved to Mendoza in 2009, I’ve seen wineries and hotels laying roots closer and closer to the Andes each year, and last year when Casa de Uco officially opened it became the wine resort perhaps closest to the Andes of them all.

The last stop on the road to Manzano Historico, Casa de Uco is gaucho territory and has an enviable spot for vineyards and an even more desirable spot to lay your head. There are only 16 rooms in this boutique hotel (soon to be joined by a couple ultra-lux bungalows) and the architecture is set out to make you feel privacy, yet intimacy with the landscape.

The owner – Alberto Tonconogy – is a renowned Argentine architect, and you can feel the attention to design detail as you step inside. It feels as if the whole hotel was designed from the inside out, as each room takes maximum advantage of the mountain views and incredible natural light – whether that is the view from the restaurant over the infinity pool that pours out into the glassy lagoon seamlessly reflecting the shimmering Andes and wide blue skies, or the carpet of vineyards that are spread out beneath your bathtub. You couldn’t feel more in the middle of the vineyards here.

Casa-de-Uco-24.jpgThis combination of its stunning vineyard location and the modern comfort of the hotel is one of the reasons it took home Best Accommodation in the Great Wine Capitals Awards last year, but there are more…

No meal or stay would be complete in Mendoza without plenty of good Malbec, and this wouldn’t be a wine resort without a decent cellar. Under the hand of up-and-coming sommelier Juan Pablo, you can taste through some real gems from the Argentine wine scene as well as the house juice which is made by flying winemaker Alberto Antonini. You’re only a stone’s throw from some of my other favourite wineries to visit in the region (Super Uco, O Fournier, Monteviejo, Salentein), but if you are feeling a bit lazy you can visit Casa de Uco’s own winery on site which will be opening this harvest.

To soak up the Malbec, a pitstop at the restaurant is necessary. Uco Valley is Mendoza’s natural oasis and a real haven for produce with delicious fruits, vegetables and nuts grown here. The young duo of chefs Pablo and Charlie bring all the native ingredients to the plate (with many from their own organic garden) in a modern interpretation of Argentine cuisine.

After an indulgent lunch, burn it off by exploring the 320 hectares on the estate by foot, bike, or best of all on horseback – you are in gaucho country after all.

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