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Southern Mendoza Region


Wines from this region

Introduction

The south of Mendoza experienced the development that characterized the province between 1880 and 1940. The region was able to access the national market through the railroad. In addition, great undertakings were possible due to artificial irrigation systems, resulting in an expansion of agriculture and cattle breeding. At the same time, large investments were made, targeted mainly to large projects such as Nihuil dam.
San Rafael is the second most relevant city in the province. Its origin goes back to the conquest process of the South, which began in 1805 with the historical parliament of Diamante and the foundation of the fort of San Rafael in the historic 25 de Mayo village, which is now a rural and cultural tourism site.
The city is vibrant, thriving and has a modern urbanization. The streets are wide and a special care for trees is taken. The traditional ditches provide water.
Moreover, San Rafael city has an active business center, a casino and a variety of lodging and specialized gastronomic services. It is also home to important events, many of them carried out in the new Conventions Center.
On the other hand, the region is very suitable for practicing nature-related activities: trekking, rafting, mountain biking, assorted excursions in contact with spectacular landscapes are some of the various choices offered to the tourist. The Atuel Canyon represents the main sightseeing attraction, its extraordinary geomorphology and spectacular characteristics created by the effects of erosion.
Malargüe is well-known for its huge number of impressive landscapes that are the framework for the practice of adventure tourism, mountain activities, paragliding, rafting, kayaking, safari, hot springs bathing and horseback riding, among others. Moreover, Las Leñas ski center -one of the most important of Argentina- is located at this Southern department.
General Alvear department marks the transition from the oasis to the plains. Large areas covered by vineyards and fruit trees frame its landscapes, also spotted by lagoons and rivers. The old settlements show traditional houses and customs, some of them brought by Russian immigrants. There are also mythical places such as the Bairoletto site, in honor of a bandit and popular hero, and natural attractions such as riversides and their sports and leisure centers.

General Information

Demographic data

Surface: 87.000 km² (General Alvear 14.448 km², Malargüe 41.317 km², San Rafael 31.235 km²)
Population: 247.140 inhabitants (estimated)
International Airport: Malargüe: “Comodoro Ricardo Salomón”, Phone: 54 2627 470098 – 470128/47 – San Rafael: “Suboficial Ayte. Germanó”, Av. Hipólito Irigoyen 1900, Las Paredes.
Phone: 54 2627 427103 – 427253
Bus Terminal: San Rafael: Av. Coronel Suarez y Avellaneda.
Phone: 54 2627 437860 – Malargüe: Av. General Roca 300 (Oeste) – General Alvear: Chaperrauge e Intendente Morelas – Phone: 02625-42-4594

Economic aspects

In this oasis, corn, alfalfa, grapevine, olive tree, fruit trees (peach, pear, plum) are cultivated and bovine and wool-bearing cattle are bred. Several industries spring from these activities, such as canned dried products manufacturing -such as jams, liquors and a wide selection of high quality foods.

Main Tourism Centers

In Malargüe, besides Las Leñas ski center, it is worth visiting Castillos de Pincheira, Llancanelo Lagoon, Pozo de las Ánimas (a deep pool of water surrounded by legends), Cueva del Tiger, Caverna de las Brujas, Llano Blanco (petrified forest), La Pasarela, El Payén Provincial Reserve, Valle Hermoso, Manqui Malil (waterfalls and paleontologic relics), Termas del Azufre (hot springs), Termas de Valle Hermoso (hot springs), and Cari Lauquen Valley. In San Rafael, Atuel Canyon is a main attraction where rafting and tours of Termas del Sosneado (hot springs) and the Overo Volvano can be enjoyed. General Alvear has interesting agro-tourism options as well as adventure tourism activities such as 4 x 4 vehicle excursions.

Tourism Information Centers

San Rafael
Tourism Department: Av. Irigoyen 775 (esq. Ballofet) – San Rafael Tel / Phone: 54 2627 424217 / 437860

General Alvear
Tourism Department: Alvear Oeste 430
Phone: 54 2625 422661 int. 146 – extensión Nº 146-
www.generalalvearmza.gov.ar

Malargüe
Tourism Department: Ruta 40 norte s/n
Phone: 54-261-471659 – www.malargue.gov.ar
infoturismo@malargue.gov.ar

Tourism Calendar

January
National Singing and Dancing Festival – Gral. Alvear
Poplar Festival – General Alvear
Chileno de Paso Pehuenche
Argentinian-Chilean Gathering in Paso Pehuenche – Malargüe
February
National Goat Festival and Provincial Lamb Fest – Malargüe
Horse Festival – San Rafael
Atuel Pentathlon – San Rafael
Plum Festival – General Alvear
Harvest Festivals throughout the different districts
April
Sport Fishing Week in rivers and lakes of the province
Classical Music concerts in the Wine Route
Ranch keepers Festival – San Rafael
May
National Cattle-Farming Festival – General Alvear
Sierra’s Christ Festival – Malargüe
Fishing Contest – Malargüe
June
Ski Centers Season Opening
Provincial Puppet Festival – San Rafael
Celebrations in honor of San Pedro and San Pablo – General Alvear
July
Snow Festival and Winter holidays at ski centres – Malargüe
August
Provincial Snow Festival – Malargüe
September
Tango through the Wine Routes (throughout the region)
Farmers Festival – General Alvear
October
“Biblos” Book Fair – San Rafael
Latin-American Film Festival – San Rafael
November
Provincial Wine and Tourism Festival – San Rafael
December
Kayac and Rafting Championship (Las Heras, Luján de Cuyo and San Rafael)

Information and photos courtesy of Mendoza Tourism Secretariat

Grape and Wine Production

Located between 34° 5′ and 35° of South latitude, the Southern Region is spread out at the foot of the main mountain chain of the Andes. It is an oasis irrigated by Atuel and Diamante rivers. The vineyards reach their highest altitude at 800 meters asl in Las Paredes and Cuadro Nacional (San Rafael), descending to 450 meters in Carmensa (General Alvear). The Southern region comprises a total of 22 thousand hectares planted and approximately 200 wineries.
Climate and soil conditions foster the production of a wide range of varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and -lately- Sangiovese, Syrah and Bonarda. The latter is currently the most important red grape in the region, with a cultivated extension of almost 2,500 ha. Among white grapes Chenin Blanc, Semillón and Torrontés stand out, being used or the production of sparkling wines. Chardonnay is also produced in significant amounts. San Rafael is the second most important department of the province with regards to viticulture activities, with 17,000 hectares of vineyards. Alongside General Alvear they gather 14% of Mendoza’s vineyards.