Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The region lies at the foot of the Mt Tupungato volcano, which, at 21,555ft (6570m) high, is one of the highest peaks in Argentina. The altitude of the vineyards brings clarity of light, water and air and moderates the high temperatures associated with lower latitudes. Full-bodied red wines made from Malbec and crisp, elegant whites made from Chardonnay are specialities of the terroir here.
The small town of Tupungato is roughly 40 miles (65km) south of the city of Mendoza, along the western foothills of the Andes mountains. The average vineyard sits at an altitude of 4200ft (1300m) above sea level. Sunlight exposure at this high an altitude is more intense than in lower-lying areas, but the altitude also means that nights are much colder, cooled by westerly winds from the Andes. This kind of daily temperature range is excellent for the production of quality grapes; the nightly cooling-off extends the ripening period, letting grapes develop rich varietal character while retaining acidity.
Tupungato is in the rain shadow of the Andes and, as such, experiences very little rainfall. Most vineyards are drip-irrigated using high-quality Andean meltwater, and vignerons have a high degree of control over the amount of water that the vines receive during the growing season. The stony, free-draining alluvial soils found in the region are excellent for viticulture for this same reason: the lack of water in the soils stresses the vines, reducing vigor and yields and causing them to grow small, concentrated berries. The resultant wines are rich and complex, with firm tannins and good structure.
The combination of climate, soil and altitude makes Tupungato an important sub-region of Mendoza, and many well-known wineries have based themselves here (including the Argentinean operation of Masi Agricola of Veneto in Italy).