The Vines of Mendoza

Los Chacayes


Los Chacayes is between 1000 and 1400 meters above sea level. The East end starts at 1015 MASL and the highest cultivated area is around 1300 MASL. The strip where most of the projects are located is between 1170 and 1220 MASL.

Los Chacayes

By Diego Pernas


The origin of the name Los Chacayes is not entirely certain, or at least, when researching for information, I could reach two different sources: 

1. Chacayes derives from El Chacay (or Chacai) - (Chacaya Trinervis) which is a native plant that grows along the slopes and streams. Its fruit, with a slightly citrus flavor, was part of the diet of the aborigines of the area. 

2. Another theory mentions the aborigines that inhabited the Uco Valley, the Huarpes Micayac, who named “Chacayes” the foxes that can be found in the area to this day. 

A bit of history: 

In the aboriginal time, the area was inhabited by the Huarpes and the Puelches and other aboriginal groups called "From the Tunuyanes". These groups included diverse aboriginal populations such as the Chiquillanes, Morcoyanes, Mensuyanes, Oscoyanes and Otoyanes. 

Historically, the area housed plantations of alfalfa, aromatic herbs, apples and, later, the vine since the early 90s, expanding up (west) from Los Sauces and Vista Flores. 

If we go further back, we can find that General José de San Martín stepped through the area known today as Manzano Histórico in September 1816, before embarking on his trip to free Chile and Peru. The Estancia El Totoral is recorded as his resting place.

Upon his return from the liberating campaign of America in January 1823, San Martin returns to the area through El Portillo Pass, resting again in the aforementioned ranch

Some Geography:

Back to the present, and geographically speaking, Chacayes belongs to the Department of Tunuyán, which is one of the three departments that make up the Uco Valley, together with Tupungato and San Carlos, according to the final division of the Valley established on November 25, 1880 under the government of Don Elías Villanueva.

Los Chacayes was "put on the map" some years before with the denomination of "Paraje", always within Tunuyán, back in November of 1858, when the territory of the Uco Valley received the denomination of Villa de San Carlos, its limits being the river Tunuyán, the stream Los Arboles (to the north) and the Andes Mountain range, including also other places such as El Melocotón, Vista Flores, Arboles de Villegas, Sauce and Totoral.

Today we know more precisely Los Chacayes as a "separation" from what was more widely known as Vista Flores, bounded on the north by the district of Los Árboles, on the south by the district of Campo de los Andes, on the west by the Republic of Chile, and to the east with the districts of Vista Flores and Los Sauces.


It is the result of the coalescence of a series of alluvial fans from the Cordillera de los Andes.

There are very heterogeneous soils and generally poor. There is a presence of boulder-like stones near the bed of the Tunuyán River and there are also sandy-clayey soils.

There are also large stone blocks which, in some cases, are larger than one meter in diameter, with the presence of calcium carbonate up to three millimeters thick. The stones present in the area are smaller than those found in other areas of equal altitude. Two types of materials predominate: the stones derived from violet and purple porphyry blocks (a strip of hills of this material is found in the area of ​​the Historical Manzano) and the typical granite stones of this area of ​​the Frontal Mountain Range.

Altitude, weather and rain:

Los Chacayes is between 1000 and 1400 meters above sea level. The East end starts at 1015 MASL and the highest cultivated area is around 1300 MASL. The strip where most of the projects are located is between 1170 and 1220 MASL.

The area does not suffer a great inclement weather. There is almost no hail nor frosts, although there is intense cold and a high thermal amplitude. The maximum temperatures during the summer months easily exceed 30ºC and go down to 5ºC during the night. It has a very similar weather to that of Vista Flores, although not as cool as other areas of higher altitude than 1250 MASL, such as Los Arboles or Gualtallary.

With low cloudiness and extremely strong evaporation, rainfall reaches an annual average of 320mm.

Currently, the district has a total of 102,500 hectares but only 1,600 hectares are planted with vineyards and it will be possible to plant very little more in the future because there is no more water available.

Beginnings, Brand and Geographical indication:

Pioneer in the area was Piedra Negra, more precisely François Lurton, who arrived 22 years ago, back in 1996, and acquired the first lands. His 100 hectares of vine are of course the oldest in Chacayes.

It was precisely Jacques and François Lurton who duly registered Los Chacayes as a brand in May 2005 and these days, thanks to the generosity of the other producers in the area, the use of the brand is assigned to commercialize the wines produced there duly identified. A really remarkable and positive attitude (which in other cases is not yet achieved) with the aim of working together for the correct communication and marketing of a place.

The last ones to reach the Chacayes area were the Bianchi. The historic winery of our country, currently carried out by the third and fourth family generation, inaugurated its second home in April of this year. It will be there where their iconic wines will be made: Enzo Bianchi, Particular and the new Gran Familia ones. The winery has a production capacity of 400 thousand liters and the whole experience of Silvio Alberto, in charge of both the vineyards and the wines.

In the way that the wine industry carries out to improve the identification of the producing areas, one of the main actors for Chacayes is undoubtedly Luis Reginato, who worked hard in everything related to the possibility of having the right to use the Geographical Indication Los Chacayes.

According to Luis Reginato, the objective of the G.I. is to define and protect wine areas which, due to the unique combination of soil and climate, give wines with unique and irreproducible characteristics in another place.

In the case of Los Chacayes, its peculiarities are its alluvial soils, stony and not very fertile, with vines that have low yield, but with a lot of intensity of flavors and aromas.

The varieties that best express themselves are Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other varieties that are not as traditional, such as Gewurztraminer, Garnacha and Monastrell, also give a surprising result.

But, what is a "Geographical Indication"? What is it for?

The I.N.V. made a very detailed report called "Protection and Management of Origin" where it establishes the following definition:

A G.I. is the name that identifies a product originating in a region, locality or geographical area of ​​production delimited from the national territory, no greater than the provincial area or interprovincial area already recognized. It is only justified when certain quality or other characteristics of the product are mainly attributable to its geographical origin.

Law No. 25.163 on Denomination of Origin establishes a system for the recognition, protection and registration of Argentine geographical names to designate the origin of wines and spirits of a wine nature.


Resolution 249-E/2017 of the National Institute of Viticulture resolved on October 5, 2017 "the recognition, protection and registration of the Los Chacayes area as a Geographical Indication of the Argentine Republic, located in the province of Mendoza, in agreement with the political limits of the District of the same name, belonging to the Department of Tunuyán."

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