Despite total acreage planted declining from 629,850 acres (254,891 ha) in 1980 to 360,972 acres (146,080 ha) in 2003, Mendoza is still the leading producer of wine in Argentina. As of the beginning of the 21st century, the vineyard acreage in Mendoza alone was slightly less than half of the entire planted acreage in the United States and more than the acreage of New Zealand and Australia combined.
The majority of the vineyards are found in the Maipú and Luján departments. In 1993, the Mendoza sub region of Luján de Cuyo was the first controlled appellation established in Mendoza. Other notable sub-regions include the Uco Valley and the Tupungato department. Located in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, the average vineyards in Mendoza are planted at altitudes 1,970-3,610 feet (600-1,100 meters) above sea level. The soil of the region is sandy and alluvial on top of clay substructures and the climate is continental with four distinct seasons that affect the grapevine, including winter dormancy.
Historically, the region has been dominated by production of wine from the high yielding, pink-skinned varieties of Cereza and Criolla Grande but in recent years Malbec has become the regions most popular planting. Cereza and Criolla Grande still account for nearly a quarter of all vineyard plantings in Mendoza but more than half of all plantings are now to premium red varietals which beyond Malbec include Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Italian varieties. In the high altitude vineyards of Tupungato, located southwest of the city of Mendoza in the Uco Valley, Chardonnay is increasing in popularity. The cooler climate and lower salinity in the soils of the Maipú region has been receiving attention for the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine producers in the region are working with authorities to establish a controlled appellation