Cuyo is a historical wine-producing region located in the mountainous area of west-central Argentina. Along with the city of Mendoza, some of Argentina's most popular tourist attractions are found here, including the highest mountain massifs in the Andes.
Cuyo: Historical Region
This area in the Andean Piedmont is partially separated from the Pampas to the southeast by the Sierra de Córdoba, a low range of mountains extending along a north-south axis west of Córdoba.
Cuyo is a historical wine-producing region located in the mountainous area of west-central Argentina. Historically, it comprised the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, and San Luis.
Today, the province of La Rioja is often included in the economic macroregion called New Cuyo. Culturally, however, La Rioja is part of the Argentine Northwest rather than of Cuyo.
The region's first European visitor was the Spanish adventurer Francisco de Villagrá in 1551. This area later became the first to experience permanent interior settlement in what now is Argentina.
Mendoza is the largest city in Cuyo. It was founded in the 16th century but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1861. The city was rebuilt with wider streets and more substantial buildings. The smaller town of San Juan also suffered from significant earthquakes in 1944 and 1977.
The Cuyo area has an economy based on the irrigated cultivation of grapes, fruits, and vegetables and the oil, gas, copper, lead, and uranium industries.
Wine production in the Cuyo region represents almost 80% of Argentina's total national production, and the wines are considered some of the best in the world. In addition, olives, potatoes, tomatoes, and fruits are also cultivated and produce sweets and preserved foods.
The region of Cuyo has an arid or semi-arid climate with an average annual precipitation of about 100 to 500 mm (4 to 20 in) that is generally unreliable from year to year.
The region encompasses a wide range of latitudes and features altitudes ranging from 500 m (1,640 ft) to nearly 7,000 m (22,965 ft), giving rise to diverse climates.
The Andes prevent rain-bearing clouds from the Pacific Ocean, while its latitude puts it in a band of the subtropical high-pressure belt, keeping this region dry.
The region is suitable for wine production with very low humidity, abundant sunshine throughout the year, and a temperate climate. However, droughts are often frequent and prolonged.
Summer in the region is hot and generally very sunny, averaging as much as 10 hours per day. In contrast, winters are dry and cold and average around 7–8 hours of sunshine daily. Temperatures can vary widely with altitude.
As in other parts of Argentina, tourism is an essential source of income. Some of the sites that receive a large number of visitors are the following:
City of Mendoza
Ischigualasto (Valle de la Luna)
Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (Grape harvest festival in Mendoza City)
Las Leñas (ski resort)
City of San Rafael
Village of El Trapiche
Village of Merlo
Map depicting the New Cuyo Region, Argentina