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Mendoza´s Central Valley: history, culture and good wine

August 15, 2008 | in Tourism

Comprised by the departments of San Martín, Rivadavia and Junín, this valley is of the largest grape-growing territories in Mendoza. It offers great rural tourism option and for a while now it has been under a significant re-conversion of grapes and wineries aiming at the production of high quality wines.

The Central Valley -also known as East Zone- is a rural and cultural area including the departments of San Martín, Rivadavia and Junín. Grape-growing is the most important activity of the area. Historically, the Central Valley has played a significant role in the provincial economic growth, including the golden time of Mendoza, the era of the train and the immigrants, who contributed to the improvement of the locality, which achieved a satisfactory insertion, at a rate similar to Greater Mendoza’s.

San Martín – named after national hero Don Jose de San Martin in 1941- is one of the main producer of wine of Argentina, South America and the world. This is a place dedicated to vine growing and agricultural activities. In San Martín, visitors can enjoy cultural attractions such as Las Bóvedas Historic Museum, Olivo Histórico, Las Palmeras Avenue, Buen Orden Chapel and Paseo Sarmiento Park, among others.

To the North and East of San Martín, Junín department has a cultivated area comprising almost 90% of its territory.  Its main economic activities are viticulture, olive tree growing and olive oil production and poultry farming. Junín is known as “Mendoza’s Garden” due to its beautiful and abundant flowers. Remarkable localities include Los Barriales, Orfila vineyards and  Gobernador Tiburcio Benegas Dam. A restored old yard has become a site of historical significance – Solar Histórico – which used to be part of a flour mill related to patriotic activities.

The department of Rivadavia has mainly developed a viticulture economy, its grapes directed to must and wine production. For visitors seeking educational and entertaining alternatives, Cabaña Tulumaya gathers 60 hectares with a colonial house of adobe walls, cane roof, red tiles, galleries and large bedrooms; it also has a museum with elements, carriages and other objects from the early 20th Century. In the summer time, the lake of El Carrizal Dam is the meeting point shared by Rivadavia and Lujan departments. It offers the opportunity to camp and swim as well as activities such as water skiing, windsurfing, sailing and fishing.

In the Central Valley it is possible to enjoy a Wine Route (Caminos del Vino) encompassing a string of modern wineries, along with the most traditional ones. The circuit covers estates and industries that are iconic among the agricultural and industrial undertakings of the region. Historical sites such as the Museum of Bóvedas in San Martín, or Orfila Mill in Junín suggest the presence of General San Martín every step of the way. It is an area identified with rural tourism, typical meals, marmalades, festivals and shows, regional crafts, farms, estates and fields.

The Central Valley represents the major viticulture region of Argentina. In addition to having a surface of over 70,000 hectares of vineyards, it is cultivated with other crops such as olive trees, fruits and it has a significant honey production. Fed by the waters of Tunuyán and Mendoza rivers, this region concentrates its viticulture activity between 650 and 750 meters above sea level.

The region has a mild to warm weather and 2,200 sunlight hours in a period of 210 days, offering an appropriate climate for grape ripening. In contrast with other viticulture oases, this Eastern region does not have a wide temperature range in the summer, with temperatures rarely falling below 15º C. The soils are wind-originating, sandy, lime-sandy and rich in potassium, with some salty spots.

The region’s main grapes include Criolla Grande, Moscatel Rosado, Cereza, Bonarda, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lately, this region has shown a noticeable progress in estate management, irrigation systems, technology advances in vineyards, wineries and concentrated grape juice production facilities.

The advantages of this area include the availability of land for agriculture, the youth of the vineyards and the agricultural and ecological conditions for obtaining optimum quality wines.

For further information, contact the departmental offices:

San Martín: www.sanmartin.mendoza.gov.ar
Junín:
www.juninmendoza.gov.ar
Rivadavia:
www.rivadaviamendoza.gov.ar

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