Even Teetotalers Will Find Plenty to Do in Mendoza

Even those who don't like wine can find plenty to do in Mendoza. Local vineyards have created a wealth of special activities and events to coincide with the grape-harvesting season in February and March. The Masters of Food & Wine South America (February 10–15) is a bacchanalian gathering of some of the world's top chefs at the Park Hyatt in Mendoza, who venture out to prepare meals in various vineyards throughout the province. Foodies can mingle with some of the globe's top gastronomic gurus and try cuisine not normally available in Argentina. Held the first weekend of March, the national grape-harvest festival, known as the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia, features parades, parties and a pageant held in a massive Greek-style amphitheater outside the city of Mendoza.

The Familia Zuccardi, which produces excellent wine and olive oil, offers an imaginative array of activities at their estate in the Maipu region. Among them: hot-air-balloon rides, antique-car tours of the vineyards and bike trips. The family also allows visitors to get their hands dirty by pruning the vines (June through August) or harvesting the grapes (February and March).

Art lovers will appreciate the gallery inside Zuccardi's barrel room, with its rotating collection of works by local Argentine artists. In the Uco Valley, the futuristic O. Fournier winery also houses an impressive collection of Argentine and international paintings, well lighted and displayed throughout the building, including in the underground wine cave and the private tasting room. Nearby, the Dutch-owned Salentein vineyard has its very own art museum, with a collection that features renowned Argentine and Dutch artists like Nicolas Garcia Uriburu and Leendert van der Vlist. No Malbec necessary to enjoy them.