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.

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

United cargo connects products to people all over the world this holiday season

By The Hub team, November 23, 2020

Critical medical shipments – Check.

High-tech electronics – Check.

2.7 million pounds of lobster? Check.


While this year's holiday gatherings will look a little different, millions of people around the world will still carry on the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a meal.

As the appetite for different types of food from all over the world increases, so does the need for safe and reliable transport. Fish caught in the United Kingdom can depart at breakfast and arrive in Washington D.C. in time for dinner. Thanks to United Cargo's expansive network, we are longer constrained by global distance or the seasonality of a product,

United Cargo plays a big role in transporting shipments with a limited shelf life around the world. Packed in between the latest electronics from Asia and the hottest fashion items from Europe, our aircraft carry a variety of perishable shipments like flowers, fruit, meat and vegetables, where speed and careful handling keeps them fresh. Whether it's cherries from Washington State or vegetables from Peru, our temperature-controlled shipping processes and vast global network helps move these commodities all over the world.

While the holidays are an exceptionally busy time of year for shipping perishable items, United Cargo transports these critical goods for people all over the world year-round. Earlier this year, United Cargo moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program to support communities impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, with the holiday season here, we anticipate the cargo holds of our aircraft to be full of grocery store replenishments, including staples like turkey and ham, hitting shelves across the globe.

We take pride in our role to make sure perishables and produce arrive on time and at the peak of freshness. These products sustain, feed and nurture the world, and consumers around the globe depend on them every single day.

Since March 19, United has operated nearly 8,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 272 million pounds of cargo on those flights alone. United Cargo is proud of the role we play maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access commodities from all over the globe.

Bon appetit!

10 travel tips for the holiday season

By The Hub team, November 19, 2020

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your holiday travels, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, payments and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check and touch-free onboard payments.

2. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist

Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:

  • Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
  • Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face coverings, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted

3. Get familiar with CleanPlus

United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading* cleanliness, plus putting health and safety at the forefront of your experience, in partnership with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic. We've implemented CleanPlus in a number of ways that you'll notice throughout your trip, as well as with some behind-the-scenes enhancements like:

  • Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
  • Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
  • Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features

Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.

4. Don't forget essential documents

We've made a list of travel requirements and restrictions for every destination that you can check twice, or as often as you need before your trip. Just visit united.com/travelrequirements to get the details on COVID-19 testing, health documents and other things you may need before you fly.

5. Wear your mask

You may not notice our smile behind our face covering, but you can be sure that we're appreciative of all our travelers who arrive to the airport with their mask on, and continue to wear it over their nose and mouth at all times in the airport and on board. Make sure you review our requirements for face coverings, including what an acceptable face covering looks like. Bonus points if your mask infuses some holiday cheer!

6. A better boarding process for your safety

If you haven't flown with us in a while, you might want to get familiar with our new boarding process. To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.

7. Pack smart

Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.

8. Check your flight status, important notices and weather

Check the United app regularly for the latest updates, weather conditions, flight status, gate and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.

9. Arrive early; avoid the stress

Airports can be busy, especially during the holidays. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.

10. Relax and enjoy your flight

Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.

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