Mendoza
I arrive at Carlos Pulenta's brand-new boutique winery in the Vistalba district of Mendoza's Lujan de Cuyo wine region - the oldest grape-growing area in this high-altitude wilderness - long after the sun has set over the Del Plata range of the Andes, which cuts across the western outskirts of Mendoza. But this is okay, as Pulenta, an Argentine wine legend, has two beautifully appointed rooms available to visitors at his dream winery (one of the few in town not funded by foreign investments).

The next morning, I wander down the center of the adobelike building - a purely Medocinian mud-toned structure designed by local architect Eliana Bormida - and marvel at this austere oasis in the desert (Mendoza only receives seven or so inches of rain a year, and it's one of the world's only wine regions lacking ocean influence). Layers of reddish-orange vineyards and golden poplar trees in full autumnal bloom light up the landscape like a fiery kaleidoscope.

Then I turn around and see them. The Andes. Fully snowcapped and perfectly framed under the entrance arch to the winery. I nearly trip over myself fumbling for my camera. There's no doubt Pulenta picked this spot with Mayan accuracy, and I think this is surely the world's most astonishing wine region view - for the moment, anyway.

Nearby, there's Clos de los Siete, a joint venture between seven of France's most heralded wine figureheads (grape globe-trotter Michel Rolland included) and Argentine winemakers. I arrange a lunch at Monteviejo, the first of three stunning wineries to open in these seven vineyards. This marvelous structure sits right between Mount Aconcagua of the Andes to the west and the gorgeous Uco Valley to the east.

For 60 pesos ($20), the best empanadas I have ever eaten kick-start a meal that includes a full-on asado, or mixed grill, and ends with flan flanked by Argentina's famed caramel-like milk jam, dulce de leche. The bottle of Clos de Los Siete, an experimental blend that includes grapes from each of the seven vineyards, costs 40 pesos ($13.50) more, but at this exchange rate, who cares? It all goes down as I gape at the vistas from the dining room - a portrait of vineyards in every direction, framed by the Andes and Uco Valley - which are surely unparalleled in the wine world.