The town of Cafayate and the region that surrounds it have earned the nickname “Tuscany of Argentina” for its position as the nation’s second major wine producer after Mendoza. While much of Salta is dominated by arid landscapes, the microclimate surrounding Cafayate is home to some of the planet’s highest altitude vineyards — considered by some to be the most spectacular as well.
While Mendoza is known for its malbec, Cafayate is famous for its Torrontés, a wholly Argentine white grape that produces crisp, dry and citrus-y whites with a distinct floral nose. The bodegas scattered around town all pour this Argentine white, but the area also produces excellent Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet sauvignon.
While it’s safe to say that life in Cafayate revolves around wine, the non-wine drinker will find plenty of appeal as well, whether in the excellent restaurants and artisanías surrounding the central plaza or in the scenic surrounding landscape, dominated by green vineyards backed by arid peaks.
Cafayate can be reached via a 3.5-hour bus ride from Salta, which departs three to four times daily. While it’s possible to see Cafayate on a day trip from Salta, the range of accommodations and variety of activities make it worthwhile to spend a night or two.