We begin from a landmark of the Viticulture of Mendoza, which is now called La Enoteca. Then we go 5 minutes on foot to the Municipality of Mendoza to visit the Wine Room and, after that, we cross the street to see the building of the National Institute of Viticulture.
From there, we walk 1.6 km to Bodegas Escorihuela and Caro (around 20 minutes). During the journey along San Martín Avenue, we can admire the old Arizu winery, today in ruins.
From Caro Winery we can request a taxi to go to Bodega Los Toneles, which is 4 km away. We can culminate our tour there, with a visit to the art gallery or a toast in its restaurant.
In this way, we can appreciate the spirit of wine that mixes itself with the daily activities of the inhabitants of Mendoza.
The Enoteca (The Wine Collection or the Wine Cellar)
The Enoteca is currently the only existing architectural testimony of the National School of Viticulture established in Mendoza in 1900. It was functioning in this building until 1939. The first professionals of the viticulture of Argentina and Latin America were trained there.
In 2002, the old winery was re-functionalized and became the Wine Thematic Center that carries out activities to promote winemaking and wine consumption throughout the year.
At its entrance there is a small vineyard with the main grape varieties of Mendoza. It is an ampelographic sample for the visitor to have a first impression of the wine production in the area. The red varieties are Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. The white varieties are Torróntes Riojano, Chadonnay, Pedro Ximénez and Sauvignon Blanc. This vineyard has drip irrigation and is conducted in a trellis system.
On a daily basis, the Enoteca offers guided tours, a souvenir shop and information for those who wish to investigate the wonderful world of Argentine wine.
The building consists of two main brick units, with wooden trusses and ceilings of flat cane, clay cake and zinc. There is also a semi-buried nave and a cellar with thick stone walls, which used to house the oak “foudres” (vats) for the conservation of wine. The complex used to have a laboratory (attached to the north aisle) and a wide gallery extended to the east that covered the press and the milling area. The classic expression of its facade of exposed bricks was the most widespread style in our province, probably due to its constructive simplicity. This style is related to the Renaissance temples of northern Italy, with a triangular pediment and a flat wall with a gate and a central oculus. This construction was smaller than traditional wineries since its purpose was to educate and experiment and not to produce large volumes of wine to commercialize.
Wine room of the Municipality of the City of Mendoza
The Wine Room of the Municipality of the City of Mendoza is located on the mezzanine floor of the Municipal Palace hall. It opened its doors on December 10, 2019. This initiative promotes wine as the national drink of Argentina and its culture among residents, tourists and students who visit the municipality. The spirit of this space is to be a powerhouse for activities that revolve around the world of wine.
Link to more information: La Municipalidad de Ciudad tiene su Sala del Vino – Ciudad de Mendoza
National Institute of Viticulture
It is the entity that controls and regulates the wine industry in Argentina. It was created by Act No.14878 in 1959. Its headquarters are located in Mendoza because this province is the protagonist of the Argentine wine industry. The building houses offices, a laboratory, a library and an auditorium. From time to time, the institute offers activities open to the public. Although currently it does not have a program dedicated to tourists, it is of interest to know about the existence of this important organism and its location, as part of the approach to the wine ecosystem of Mendoza.
Website: Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura | Argentina.gob.ar
Former Arizu Winery Ruins
At 1515 San Martín Avenue you will find the ruins of the former Arizu Winery building. This company stopped operating in the early 1980s.
The property covers 50 thousand square meters. Balbino Arizu founded its winery in 1886. Its original construction dates back to 1890 and it was built in Italian style. While its neocolonial facades were made in the 1930s by the architect Raúl Álvarez, during the best years of the company. In these external walls, bricks were covered with white plaster, stone baseboards, ocher-colored moldings and tiles. It is a testimony of the evolution of the construction methods used in wineries in Mendoza since it has areas of adobe, brick and reinforced concrete. In its heyday, the winery had its own railway line that carried the wines to Buenos Aires.
The Arizu family sold the facilities to the Giol company at the beginning of the 1970’s. This company went bankrupt in the 80s and the property was abandoned for many years. Along the time, it has suffered several damages, especially during the earthquake of 1985 that broke the walls towards Belgrano Street. In 1998 it was bought by the Cencosud business group to be demolished for building a shopping center but the residents of the area protested to defend this historical heritage. Thus, 13 thousand squere meters of it were declared National Historic Monument in 1999 by National Decree 339. It was finally expropriated in 2019 by the Government of Mendoza.
At the moment, the building is in hands of the Municipality of Godoy Cruz, which offers cultural activities in some sectors that can still be used. This venue has been named ‘Arizu Space’. The Municipality is also developing future improvement plans. You can get to know the cultural agenda of the Municipality in Eventos archivo – Godoy Cruz
The construction of the winery dates back to the end of the 19th century. This building is an invaluable historical and architectural heritage. These were the first industrial constructions built after the great earthquake of 1861, which destroyed a large part of Mendoza. Brick appears as a novelty, replacing former used materials like adobe and quincha. The section was acquired by Don Miguel Escorihuela Gascón. Miguel was from Aragon, Spain, and arrived in Buenos Aires around 1870. Years later he traveled to Mendoza. He married and became partner with his brother-in-law, José Diaz Valentín, to start a wine business. The building was built between 1884 and 1895. The original winery was huge. It had seven production halls and underground cellars. Some fermentation tanks had a capacity of up to 300 thousand liters, since the business model aimed at the production of bulk wine that was sent to Buenos Aires by rail.
In 1992, a group of investors – led by the Catena Family – acquired the majority of Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón. Faithful to the spirit of Don Miguel, they continued to propose wines of the highest quality. Escorihuela Gascón is one of the leaders in the production of Premium and High-end wines and one of the 10 most important exporting wineries in Argentina.
At present, in the basement, it is possible to appreciate the restored cellar, dating from 1884 and, on the other side, a concrete fermentation basin from 1895, which occupies almost the same surface as the cellar. These constructions help us imagining the monumental volumes produced here during the era of high of wine consumption in Argentina. At that time, Argentina wine consumption reached 90 liters per capita per year, while today’s consumption is estimated to be 21 liters per person.
The winery also has an exclusive wine bar with a selection of great wines to taste, a traditional bocce court for a drink in hand game and its singular and unique polo bike field.
In 2003, a sector of Bodega Escorihuela was assigned to the project of Nicolás Catena and Barón de Rotschild: Bodegas Caro. In this way, the original property is occupied today by two high-level wineries with interesting proposals for tourism: Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón and Bodegas Caro.
When Catena and Rothschild began this project, the assigned sector of the old Escorihuela winery had not been in use for decades. The architects Román Maldonado (structural enhancement) and Ricardo Zumel (interiors) were responsible for great jobs of restoration, rescue and conditioning. Caro Winery presents Neo-Roman and Spanish architectural styles. On its façade there is a rose window with a man next to a barrel. It corresponds to “El aragonés” (the man from Aragon), one of the emblematic wines made by the old Escorihuela winery. Due to its location and grandeur, the architectural ensemble formed by Bodegas Escorihuela and Caro are a symbol of the department of Godoy Cruz. Today, Caro Winery has 5 production units there.
In addition to visits and tastings, CARO frequently offers art exhibitions and tango shows with live music. It is one of the few wineries in Mendoza that offers activities until late in the evening.
According to the website of the Baron de Rothschild wines, this project is an “association between two cultures, two families and two noble grapes”’
Website: Bodegas CARO | Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)
Los Toneles Winery
Dalmacio Armando arrived in Mendoza in 1883. He was an Italian immigrant who began to work the fields in the Guaymallén area of Mendoza. Two years later, his wife and his three children joined him. The original architecture of this winery dates from 1922. The main facade is made of exposed brick. The architectural mark of the industrial revolution identified the construction style of most of the wineries in Mendoza until 1940. Los Toneles has art nouveau details and ornaments that give great personality to the set.
It was founded by the Armando family and initially called “Armando Brothers”. Over time the popular name “Bodega los Toneles” was imposed due to the impact caused by its huge French oak vessels, which could be easily observed from the outside from the winery. In the last decades of the 20th century, the company faced economic challenges that forced it to close. The facilities were abandoned for more than 20 years.
In 2002, the winery was acquired by the Millán family. They carried out a complete restoration and enhancement, while adding modern technology to the production of their wines. This winery was declared Cultural Heritage of Mendoza in 2008. It currently offers guided tours, a restaurant specialized in cured meats, venues for events and an art gallery called “La Casona”. “La Casona” is a typical example of the Italian architectural style in Argentina and shows original objects and construction materials from 1920 such as crystal chandeliers, floors and stained glass. Website: Bodega Los Toneles
Article by Carolina Suárez Garcés, ProMendoza
For Great Wine Capitals
Photo Credits: Fondo Vitivinícola, Municipality of the City of Mendoza, Escorihuela Winery, Caro Winery, Los Toneles Winery
Read more about Mendoza: Mendoza, a Great Wine Capital