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The Zuccardi family have had vineyards in eastern Mendoza since the 60s. It’s a quiet region compared to the busy winemaking hubs of Maipu, Lujan and even the Uco Valley. A 30-minute drive from Mendoza city takes you into a peaceful agricultural zone where tall pergola vines carpet the desert floor. Quiet as it may be, Zuccardi’s Santa Julia winery receives over 40,000 tourists a year.. So, what’s the big draw?
Santa Julia has several innovative wines under their belt (fancy a glass of Ekigaina or Arinarnoa anyone?) but what draws people into their fold are all the ‘extras’ on offer - an olive oil production factory, two restaurants, bike rides through the vines, cooking classes and an art gallery, all of which led it to win the Great Wine Capitals award for Best Arts and Culture in Mendoza last year.
As soon as you step into the Casa del Visitante or the modern Santa Julia winery, you’ll immediately spot art works adorning the walls. But behind each painting there’s an interesting story. Each year they organise a special ‘harvest of artists’ where local artists are invited to harvest the grapes and experience a full day in the vineyard and winery.
The day serves as inspiration for each artist to create a special piece of art work, which is later exhibited in the gallery, and create a limited edition wine label for the small-production wine they helped to harvest. Having organised this event every year since 2003, the collection now stands at over 240 art works from local artists and is one of Mendoza’s most remarkable private art collections.
The galleries are free to visit and view, but most visitors combine their visit with one of the wine culture activities on offer. There are several ways you can visit the vineyards - by bike, classic car or even hot air balloon - and throughout the year there are different activities you can take advantage of: learning to prune in the winter, or harvest grapes (or olives!) in the summer.
For those who are keen on the sensorial side of wine tasting there are guided wine tasting courses and mixology classes using their fortified wines. And gastronomes might want to take advantage of the cooking classes to learn the art of making your own empanadas in the traditional clay oven with fresh chimichurri from the organic garden.
There’s plenty to keep busy with at Bodega Santa Julia and their Casa del Visitante, and with the constant innovation in art and culture experiences, it’s no surprise that this large family winery remains one of Mendoza’s most visited.
Click here to visit their website: Casa del Visitante
Text by Amanda Barnes