Argentina's Mendoza Valley vineyards welcome travelers to enjoy the countryside with new guesthouses.
The hustle and bustle of down-town Mendoza, Argentina, is contagious: Snack on empanadas at Mercado Central or take a jog in the Parque General San Martín. With its plazas and cafés, Mendoza is full of life and charm. But to capture the essence of the region, head to the outlying vineyards, where guesthouses ("bodegas") welcome oenophiles with a glass of Malbec and a comfortable bed. "The city is lovely, but the countryside takes your breath away," says Jeff Mausbach, an American who has lived in the region for 13 years, working as the wine education director for the Catena Zapata winery. "When you stay out here, you're surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and views of the Andes."
To get a country feel and retain city convenience, book a room in the village-like suburb of Chacras de Coria, 20 minutes south of Mendoza's city center by car. At Finca Adalgisa (from $235; www.fincaadalgisa.com.ar), owner Gabriela Furlotti has transformed her grandmother's home into an 11-room bodega and winery. Finca's renovations are replete with rock fireplaces, king-size beds covered with handmade wool blankets, and lush gardens. Upon arrival, guests are given a bottle of Finca's vintage Malbec, one of only 5,000 produced annually.
Down the road in the same leafy village is Lares de Chacras (from $185; www.lares dechacras.com/en), an intimate, ten-room guesthouse built by four brothers in 2005. Lares feels more like home than hotel with its Andean stone, local desert wood, and Argentine textiles. Spacious rooms open to a courtyard and pool. A few miles east of Chacras, you'll find the small town of Maipú and Lares de Chacras's sister property, Finca Terrada (from $150; www.fincaterrada.com). Opened in September 2009, the five-room colonial bodega is similar to Lares but sits deep within a vineyard, where grapes are grown for the family's Terrada label of Malbecs, Merlots, and Torrontés.
Also in Maipú is the 11-room Club Tapiz (from $190; www.tapiz.com.ar), two renovated homes (with original pine floors from the 1890s) surrounded by 25 acres of vines and olive trees. Guests are invited to work the land, pruning, planting, or harvesting alongside the winery's workers. Thirty llamas provide wool for local artisans, who then sell their colorful sweaters and shawls in the hotel gift shop.
Another 20 miles southwest from Maipú you'll find Luján de Cuyo, home to Cavas Wine Lodge (from $500; www.cavaswinelodge.com), Mendoza's only Relais & Châteaux property. Not surprisingly, everything, from the spa's crushed Malbec body scrub to the 2,500 unlabeled bottles of Bonarda wine—available only to guests—suggests luxury. Guests stay in private adobe bungalows, each with its own plunge pool, fireplace, and terrace. Set on 35 acres, Cavas is within walking distance of Catena Zapata winery, where lodge guests are given tours.