Going down south of the province of Mendoza, 200 km away from the capital city, lies the town of San Rafael, a large oasis surrounded by canyons crossed by two rivers, Diamante and Atuel, vital for the agriculture and tourism of the region.
The arid, rocky landscape and vegetation recalls southern France, with plenty of plane trees along the streets and weeping willows lining the river.
In 1880, Jules Ballofet, a french engineer arrived to the region of southern Mendoza. He married the daughter of the biggest landowner in the area. He conceived the urban design of San Rafael City and the irrigation system that allowed the development of the region and moreover, of the agriculture. In one of his trips back to France, he met Rodolphe Iselin, a business man who came to Mendoza with him. Soon, he became the leader of an important French colony, which transformed the steppe into prosperous farms and introduced the first seedlings of Malbec in the region.
Today, the wine industry remains one of the visible traces of the presence of a French colony in the region. Still virgin lands, natural water resources and climate make this part of Argentina an oasis for viticulture.
Large wineries have developed in the area (Bianchi, Jean Rivier, Goyenechea, Algodon Wine Estates) and finally the Bodega Marco Zunino.