San Juan

Easygoing San Juan makes a good base if you want to combine active pursuits (a good selection of which can be found in and around the Ullum Valley Dam Reservoir) with visits to local bodegas. This small city was founded in 1562 as part of the Chilean viceroyalty, and sanjuaninos began making wine almost immediately; however, it wasn't until the 1890s, when Graffigna and other major operations put down roots here, that production increased. At that point wineries began offering varieties other than the sweet white table wines, sherries, and ports that the area had been known for. Today, although the city remains steeped in history and awash in wine, it is surprisingly modern. San Juan was devastated by earthquakes in 1944 and 1977 (the first of these helped establish Juan Perón, who led the relief effort, as a national figure): all of the low-rise buildings, tree-lined plazas, and pedestrian walkways you see are the results of reconstruction.

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