Wineries flourish in all corners of the Valle de Uco. This "New Napa" -- the Mendoza region's "it spot" -- is specifically near the village of La Consulta, where vineyards such as Clos de La Siete, San Polo, and O. Fournier are making a big name for themselves. Wineries here are part of a rural countryside that differs from the more urban areas of Maipú and Luján de Cuyo. The colder temperatures make for strong production of merlot and pinot noir wines.

If you are looking for a break from the wine-haze, head to the hills. To the south of the Valle de Uco is the spectacular Laguna del Diamante, well worth a day trip from either San Rafael or Mendoza city itself. At 3,230m (1,059 ft.), this natural reservoir is backed by the gorgeous Maipú Volcano. The scenery is otherworldly. Take a driver and a good truck. It's open for 4 months in the summer only. TosoBoehler (tel. 261/15-454-9005 [cell]) organizes tours in first-rate 4WD vehicles; including a barbecue lunch at the lake, it's $75 (£51) per person.

Come to Harvest -- If you're going to be in Mendoza between February and April, the Zuccardi family invites you to come pick some grapes at their vineyard, Finca Santa Rosa. This unique program gives wine aficionados a day of hands-on work in the field. After a short tutorial, guests receive scissors and a basket and then set to work for 2 hours. Afterward, the Zuccardis serve a fantastic lunch (with ample wine), followed by a tour and tasting. It's a real bargain at $60 (£41) per person, including lunch, a tour and tasting, and transportation to and from your hotel. Reservations are required (tel. 261/441-0000;

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.