Finest Wine Regions: South America - United Hub

Finest wine regions: South America

By Bob Cooper, April 16, 2018

Wine lovers wanting to visit a leading wine region that's not in California or France should look south. Chilean and Argentine wines are world-class, and not far behind are thriving wine regions in Uruguay, Brazil and even Peru. More than just visiting wineries and wine bars in these countries, visitors get a taste of these countries' distinctive, welcoming cultures.

Argentina's Mendoza region

The sprawling Mendoza wine region, at the foot of the Andes near the Chilean border, boasts 600 square miles of vineyards that yield three-quarters of Argentina's wines, especially Malbecs. Argentina is the continent's biggest wine producer too, making Mendoza a must-see region for wine lovers. First, fly to Buenos Aires, where lively wine bars and wine-tasting rooms filled with Argentine wines make it a worthy wine destination itself. Next, hop on a quick two hour flight (or take a longer drive through farm country) to Mendoza, a metro area of one million people where hop-on/hop-off minibus tours to wineries such as Bodega Catena Zapata, founded in 1902; Bodega Vistalba, where the entire operation uses gravity; and Bodega Salentein, with its 5,000-barrel cellar and Argentine art collection.

Southern Uruguay

Most wineries in the hottest new destination for South American wine tourism are located in the Canelones region near Montevideo, Uruguay. A climate similar to Bordeaux, France, produces robust reds, some made from uncommon, Italian-origin grapes such as Nebbiolo and Nero d'Avola. Montevideo is easily accessible from the larger capital city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, about a 50-minute plane ride or four hours by rental car and car ferry. Buenos Aires is also quite a bit closer to Uruguay's wine regions than Argentina's own wineries. Slightly farther out from Montevideo is Bodega Garzón, a winery that's been flooded with attention for the dozens of recent gold medals earned by its Tannats (Uruguay's national grape) and winery experiences including gourmet lunches and tractor tours in the vineyards.

Rows of wine grapes in Chile's Central Valley

Chile's Central Valley

The long band of Chilean wine valleys that stretch north and south from Santiago produce many of the world's best wines. As a result, wine tourism is enormously popular in Chile, especially in the Central Valley's Maipo and Maule sub-regions because of their proximity to Santiago. Bus tours whisk visitors from the capital city to wineries in those regions and others. Part of the appeal of central Chile, for both grapes and wine tourists, is the comfortable year-round climate — about the same as in Southern California, but with the seasons reversed. Chile is best known for its red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignons, but due to the diverse terroir — north to south and coast to Andes — every type of wine is well made.

Peru's Central Coast

Most people think of the Andes and Machu Picchu when Peru is mentioned, but there's also a fascinating, historic wine region around the coastal city of Pisco, a little over three hours from Lima by car. Even more wineries are found on Peru's southern coast, with wine tour guides also traveling there from Lima. Peru was the continent's first wine producer in the 1540s, when South America's oldest vineyards were planted—which you can tour. That's less than a century after Machu Picchu was built—and once you've had your fill of Peruvian Grenaches and Sauvignon Blancs, you can head inland to Machu Picchu for a different kind of fun and adventure.

Aerial view of Brazil's Serra Gaucha region

Brazil's Serra Gaucha region

Tucked into the hills of southern Brazil is the Serra Gaúcha, the country's main wine region, where the vineyards were first planted by thousands of Italian and German immigrants when they arrived in the 1800s. Many of these immigrants' descendants now run family wineries visited in bus tours. Two other ways to taste the spirited Brazilian-Italian flavor of this area are to ride the Maria-Funaça steam train, with Italian songs performed on board, and to visit the Italian Epic Theme Park. Both are in Bento Goncalves, the “Wine Capital of Brazil." To get to this region, fly to São Paulo, where many wine bars serve Serra Gaúcha wines, then fly to Porto Alegre, a quick plane hop via one of our partner airlines, Azul Brazilian Airlines.

What to know before you go

Wine tourists headed to South America should keep a few things in mind. First, many wineries in these predominantly Catholic countries are closed on Sundays. Second, all are south of the equator—so don't expect hot weather in July (but do expect it in January). Third, wine tours by bus or minivan are the way to go unless you crave the adventure of navigating South American roads. Fourth, properly packaged wines can go home with you as checked luggage, but the rules and fees to ship wines home vary widely by country, winery and your home state. Ask winery tour guides and staff for this information.

Getting there United Airlines offers nonstop flights from U.S. cities to South American cities that are within easy reach of these destinations. Visit united.com or use the United app to make plans to sip and savor South American wines where they're produced.

United Awards Free Flights for a Year to Winners of "Your Shot to Fly" Sweepstakes

Grand prize winners live in Bradenton, FL; Cleveland, OH; Goodyear, AZ; Oakland, CA and San Francisco, CA
By United Newsroom, July 29, 2021

CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the five lucky grand prize winners of its "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes, who will each get to fly anywhere in the world United flies with a companion over the course of the next year. The winners of the "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes are:

  • Ashley Cronkhite from Bradenton, FL
  • Robert Simicak from Cleveland, OH
  • Sean Husmoe from Goodyear, AZ
  • Lauren Aldredge from Oakland CA
  • Lauren M. from San Francisco, CA

The sweepstakes was in support of the Biden administration's ongoing national effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination and encouraged United's MileagePlus® loyalty members to upload their vaccine records to United. In less than a month, more than one million MileagePlus members uploaded their vaccine cards to the United app and website for a shot to win one of the grand prizes. In June the airline awarded 30 first prize winners with a pair of roundtrip tickets anywhere United flies.

United First U.S. Airline to Offer Economy Customers Option to Pre-Order Snacks and Beverages

New pre-order option builds on the airline's contactless payment technology and is another example of the customer experience transformation underway at United
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting today on select flights, all United customers – no matter what cabin of service they're flying in – can use the airline's award-winning mobile app and website to pre-order meals, snacks and beverages up to five days before they're scheduled to travel. United is the first and only U.S. airline to offer economy customers the option to pre-order snacks and beverages, a reflection of the customer experience transformation underway at the airline.



United Airlines to Operate More than 40 Weekly Flights as England Re-Opens to U.S. Travelers

In August, United is adding a second daily flight from Washington, D.C. to London
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With today's announcement of England reopening to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. beginning Aug 2, United Airlines is making it easier for business and leisure customers to jet across the pond with the addition of flights to London. In August, United will have six daily flights between the U.S. and London, including a second daily flight from Washington, D.C. and increasing service from Houston to daily. United looks forward to resuming additional London service in the coming months as well as launching new nonstop service between Boston and London. Customers traveling to England must be fully vaccinated in the U.S. with vaccines that have been approved by the FDA and must take a test before departure as well as a PCR test within the first two days of arrival. Passengers vaccinated in the U.S. will also need to complete a passenger locator form prior to traveling to England and provide proof of U.S. residency.

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