Patagonia Wine Tasting, a How To

We’ve put together the following information to help you plan and organize your own independent wine touring and wine tasting in the Patagonian wine region of Argentina. Skip ahead to what information interests you the most:

Wine Touring in Patagonia

Patagonian Wine Sub-Regions

Neuquen is the hub city for exploring Patagonian wine. From Neuquen you can visit two sub-regions:

San Patricio del Chañar: This is the newest wine region with the wineries starting production from 1999 onwards. Although it’s a bit of a challenge, a do-it-yourself (DIY) wine tour of the region using only public transportation and taxis is possible. You can also rent a car in the town of Neuquen. Wineries are open regularly (see below), so making a reservation in advance is not necessary. However, if you need an English speaking guide then you may want to call in advance.

Alto Valle de Rio Negro: Wineries in the Rio Negro area are a bit more spread out. Public transportation is a bit tricky, but it’s still doable. We recommend that you call wineries ahead of time to confirm that their tasting rooms are open to visitors.

Patagonian Wine Varietals

Although you can find white wines, the region is probably best known for its reds. Pinot Noir is particularly special because the soil and climate (dry, windy, cold nights) are conducive. We’ve also had a good Cabernet Sauvignon or two. The only exception to all this: there’s some nice sparkling wine in the region.
Wine Touring in Patagonia

Transportation and Logistics

San Patricio del Chañar Wineries:
The public transportation and independent route: take a bus from Neuquen (bus station or stop in town) to the main square of Cinco Saltos. Cross the street and pick up a bus going the opposite direction to San Patricio. From there, you can catch a bus north but it’s easier to pick up a remise taxi on the main square and pay a few dollars for him to take you to your winery of choice. You could probably negotiate a good rate to have the driver stay with you all day to drive you around to all the wineries you’d like to visit.

To get back to Neuquen, take the reverse route by bus or check out the remise taxis in San Patricio or Cinco Saltos going back to Neuquen.

Rent a car: Pick up a rental car at one of these rental car offices recommended by the Neuquen Tourism Office.

Take a tour: We can’t personally recommend any of these tours since we took the independent route, but the Neuquen Tourism Office suggests these wine tour companies.

Alto Valle de Rio Negro Wineries:
The public transportation and independent route: take a bus from Neuquen towards General Rosa, but make sure you get the bus that takes a more direct route on the main road (the slower, rural bus goes on a parallel road away from the wineries). Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the various wineries. Some are right on the road, while others require a 2-3 km walk from the road to the front gate. Hitchhiking along this route is also usual and safe.

Car rental and organized wine tours: See above.
Wine Touring in Patagonia

Wineries in San Patricio del Chañar, Ruta del Vino

Bodega Fin del Mundo: This is the biggest and oldest of the wineries (i.e., first vines planted in 1999) in the San Patricio del Chañar region. The most inexpensive wines are the Ventus and Postales del Fin del Mundo lines. We found that their Newen wines were a good value ($6-$8), especially the Pinot Noir variety. For a splurge, try the Reserve or Gran Reserve lines.

Tour/Wine Tasting: Tuesday – Friday: 10 AM – 4 PM, Saturday and holidays: 10 AM – 5 PM. Tour takes about one hour and includes a walk through the winery to learn about operations and a tasting with 3-5 different wines. Only Spanish language tours available when we arrived, so if you need an English language mind you may want to call to reserve in advance.
Cost: Free

Bodega NQN: Although one of the newer wineries in the San Patricio del Chanar area, this winery looks like it has its act together with its modern operations and design. The wines still taste a bit young, but we were assured that they were getting better with every harvest. The menu at Malba, Bodega NQN’s onsite restaurant, looked interesting. The restaurant overlooks the vineyard.

Tour/Wine Tasting: Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 1 PM, 2 PM – 4 PM, Weekends from 10:30 AM to 4:30. The tour lasted around 45 minutes and included an overview of operations, tasting of three wines and a walk in the vineyard. Only Spanish language tours available when we arrived, so if you need an English language mind you may want to call to reserve in advance.

Cost: Free

Bodega Familia Schroeder: This winery combines sophistication with a family touch and has some of the best wines in this areas. Try to schedule your visit around a meal as the Sauras Restaurant. An inventive menu with some fresh-sounding, unusual dishes. Schoeder’s mid-range “Saurus” label wines offer another great quality/price option from this region. At the estate, a Sauras Reserve Pinot Noir for $15 is an outstanding value.

Tour/Wine Tasting: Monday-Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM and Weekends, 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM. Tours take place on the hour and last around 45 minutes to an hour to see the winery and taste 3-5 wines. We had the choice to do the tour in English or Spanish.
Cost: 20 pesos ($6) per person, but this amount gets refunded if you buy a bottle

Bodega Familia Grittini: Unfortunately, we did not have an opportunity to visit this winery. However, we sampled two bottles of their wine while visiting Neuquen. The Grittini Cabernet was fruity, tannic, balanced. We had a bottle with some pasta we cooked for our hosts and it worked very well. The Grittini Syrah was an entirely different experience hot (high in alcohol), a little bit too fruit forward, almost syrupy. Appealing to some, but not to us.

Valle Perdido Winery: We did not have time to visit this winery, so we can’t report on it first hand. If you’re thinking of spending the night in this region and touring for several days, Valle Perdido runs a hotel, including a wine spa. Sounds like fun.
Wine Touring in Patagonia

Wineries in Alto Valle de Rio Negro

We tried to visit a couple of wineries in this region, but due to some transportation errors and arriving during the harvest without a reservation we were without luck. We recommend calling in advance to be sure the wineries are open to visitors.

Bodega Humberto Canale: We had tried several wines from this winery in the grocery store, which were good, so we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, on the day we went out no one was answering the phone and the entrance to the winery was several kilometers from the main road so we gave it a by. It looks like it would be a fun winery to visit as it has a bit more history than many others in this region.

Tour/Wine Tasting: Tuesday-Friday, 10 AM – 4 PM, Saturdays at 10 AM

Cost: 20 pesos (around $6)

Bodegas Estepa: We tried to visit this winery, but we arrived in the middle of the harvest and fermentation process and everyone’s hands were full and couldn’t take us around. It looked like a family-run place with a side building for wine tasting. This winery is located directly on the main road, closer to Neuquen than General Rosa.

Other wineries to consider in the Rio Negro Area: Bodega Noemia and Bodega Agrestis