The Best Patagonia Wineries in Neuquen's Unexpected Wine Region
Visiting Patagonia Wineries: The Unexpected Wine Region in Neuquen
Unexpected wine region, that’s how I felt about the Patagonia wineries in Neuquen. The unpolished city in the northern Patagonia desert is far more famous for its oil industry than its vineyards. So while I’m dead set on visiting every wine region in Argentina, I also had zero interest in visiting industrial Neuquen. Thankfully, a new budget airline has arrived in Argentina and had a one peso flight deal over the holidays.
Plus taxes, of course. But, even with taxes it came out to be the equivalent of $25 US total round trip. It was happening. I was finally going to visit the wineries in Patagonia. For one peso I would gladly visit Neuquen.
Our Short Tour of The Best Wineries in Patagonia
We weren’t in this area of Neuquen for long since we were passing through on our way to San Martin de los Andes. With our limited time we were only able to visit two wineries. I’ll start with the two we visited and our experience there, but this post includes all the Patagonia wineries in the region and how to visit them.
Neuquen’s Wine Region
The Patagonia vineyards are in the province of Neuquen, an hour northwest of Neuquen city in the San Patricio del Chañar municipality. The dry desert climate in this region of southern Argentina, with warm days and very cold nights, is ideal for producing high quality wine.
Wineries in Patagonia didn’t exist until twenty years ago, when Bodega Fin del Mundo first planted vines in 1999. Don’t let that discourage you though, the Uco Valley was once viewed as a risky investment for winemakers and today it produces Argentina’s best wines.
Taste the Pinot Noir
The temperature variance isn’t the only reason Patagonia is an excellent wine region. The wind plays a big part as well, keeping the vines healthy and insect free, as well as resulting in grapes with a more robust skin. This thicker skin produces the best Pinot Noir in Argentina. It has a rich flavor and a deep red color. Buy a bottle of a Pinot Noir from Mendoza and you’ll notice that it’s nearly transparent compared to one from Neuquen.
Pinot Noir, along with Merlot, are the varietals to try in this region.
1. Familia SChroeder
Hours | Mon-Sun, 10 am - 7 pm
Tours | English & Spanish, every hour on the hour lasting around one hour
Contact | email@example.com - website
We started our day at Familia Schroeder with a tasting, forgoing the tour just due to time constraints. The tasting cost the same as it would have with a tour, so if you have the time there’s no reason to skip it. The already affordable tour price can be applied to the purchase of a bottle of wine or towards a meal at their restaurant.
Their Saurus wines and restaurant are dinosaur themed for a reason. When they were digging in to prepare the land for vineyards, they uncovered the bones of a massive dinosaur. It was named the Panamericansaurus Schroederi. It's one of many skeletons discovered in Patagonia and Trelew (on the Atlantic Coast side of Patagonia) is home to an excellent Paleontology Museum, read about it here.
Hours | Mon-Fri, 9 am - 4 pm | Sat/Sun/Holidays, 10 am - 5 pm
Tours | Every hours punctually on the hour
Contact | website
Our next and ultimately last stop was Malma. We wanted to visit a third but we were enjoying ourselves too much at Malma and both our tasting and lunch ran long. We showed up planning to take the tour, but had just missed it so we joined them on the tasting (the best part anyway, am I right?).
I loved the architecture at Malma. The building seems to be part of the hill it’s built on, or in, it’s hard to tell which and I like it. Our guide here was excellent, really getting into a conversation with us about what you taste in a wine. She brought out the essential oils they use when training as sommeliers to learn to isolate tastes like apple, lemon, and even smoke.
Winery Lunch at Malma
Note | Reservations recommended, especially on weekends. You can more easily drop in without a reservation during the week. For more information, click here.
We chose to have lunch at Malma (versus Saurus at Familia Schroeder) because they have outdoor seating and it was a gorgeous day. Although the seating on their patio was geared more to lounging than actually dining, which I find to be a big mistake. People like to eat outside on beautiful days in Patagonia. Fix it Malma!
But we’re not ones to be discouraged, so we hunched over our low little table and enjoyed the fresh air. On weekdays they have a steal of a lunch special (menu ejecutivo or menu del dia). For the equivalent of $15 US it included a starter, main dish, dessert, water and a generous glass of wine. We killed the rest of our afternoon enjoying our three course meal like royalty.
3. Bodega Fin del Mundo
Hours | Mon-Fri, 10 am - 6 pm. Saturdays, 10 am - 5 pm
Contact | firstname.lastname@example.org - website
I was especially disappointed not to be able to visit Bodega Fin del Mundo. They’re the most well known Patagonia vineyard and I see their wines in the shops all the time. If like me, you’re unable to visit Fin del Mundo, don’t worry. They export to over thirty destinations so you can conduct your own tasting at home.
4. Secreto Patagonico
Contact | email@example.com - website
Being true to their name, Secreto Patagonico is a true mystery. Their website offers very little information so I’m not sure when they are open or when they offer tours. Likely they follow a similar schedule to those above, but I will update this post with up to date information as soon as I hear back from them.
Despite their minimal web presence (which isn’t uncommon here in Argentina), I was disappointed to not be able to visit Secreto Patagonico. This time for the opposite reason of Fin del Mundo, I had never heard of them. I try to make it a habit of visiting new (to me) vineyards and trying something new.
5. Bodega Patritti
Contact | firstname.lastname@example.org - website
Yet another website with no information regarding their tours. They have a “turismo” email address, so I can only assume they offer them. The architecture at Bodega Patritti is particularly stunning, both modern but also blending in with the surrounding landscape. The waves in the roof echo the rolling hills of the vineyard.
BONUS WINERY | Bodega des de la Torre
Contact | email@example.com - website
Bodega Des de la Torre is in a different region of Neuquen. It’s located 400 km northwest of Neuquen city on the famous Ruta 40 at the foot of the Andes Mountains. This tiny boutique winery in Chos Malal produces high quality wines in a stunning location. One thing to keep in mind is their isolated location. Des de la Torre isn’t part of the main San Patricio del Chañar circuit, but if you plan on driving north on the Ruta 40 you should definitely visit this tiny winery in Chos Malal.
Map of the Patagonia Wineries
Below is a map of all the Patagonia wineries mentioned in this article. You can see that most are clustered together just north of Neuquen city proper. They can easily be visited on a day trip from the city. Bodega Des de la Torre is significantly further and can’t be visited on the same day or likely even the same trip.
where to next? drive to the andes to visit patagonia’s lake district
read More | things to do in San Martin de los Andes
How to Visit the Vineyards in Patagonia
These wineries are a little over an hour from the city center of Neuquen, so the best way to visit them is by car. Public transport would likely get you into the vicinity but there are kilometers between each winery, so walking isn’t an option even once you’re there. Check rates here for rental cars for your visit.
PIN IT FOR LATER
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