People from all over the world come to Mendoza, Argentina for primarily one thing: to taste the wines that have given Mendoza its reputation. I was coming to Mendoza for that very reason. Truth be told, Maipu is actually the center of many of the famous bodega’s. Plan your trip accordingly as Mendoza is quite a bit busier and Maipu is more laid back.
After checking into my hostel, I quickly booked a wine tour where you traveled between bodega’s on a bicycle. Thoughts of riding a bicycle from one bodega to another, through wine fields and trying ample samples of wine raced through my head. Contrary to my romantic notions, it was more like riding a bicycle between bodega’s on the streets of Maipu, in 100+ degree heat with 2 or 3 very small samples of wine. We visited 2 bodega’s, Lopez and Cecchin, and one olive oil producer. Lopez is an old wine producer that uses new methods to produce high-quality wine. Cecchin is a family winery that produces organic wine. The best part of the wine tour was the lunch provided at the end where we all spent together in and around a small pool. The family ran a small vineyard, and for me, it was a cultural experience spent with my new friends from the hostel.
I hadn’t planned on staying in Mendoza much past that, but I found a place in Mendoza that was able to partially solve my technology problems. Todo Computacion was able to look at my computer right away and fix one of the problems. And, since I decided to stay 2 more days due to high airline ticket prices, it was inevitable that I try out one more one tour. While walking back from lunch one day, purely by accident, I walked by and then into Trout and Wine, a small travel agency specializing in wine tours. For double the price of my last wine tour, I was able to book another wine tour that included 4 bodega’s (one of which was also an olive producer), and a gourmet lunch. No bicycling involved in this one, either. I’d escape the heat (mostly) by being shuttled from place to place.
We started things off at Dante Robino with an explanation of how wine is produced and 4 very generous samples of Wine. Next was Alta Vista, where we had another explanation of how wine is produced (let’s get to the wine samples – I’ve heard this before) and then 3 – 4 more generous helpings of wine. It was by this time that I was getting a bit peckish. Have no fear – a gourmet lunch was right around the corner at Tapiz, a winery with a nice boutique restaurant upstairs. We started things off with a plate of bread, olive oil, and balsamico. We were then treated to an appetizer of Gazpacho and then followed up with our main entree of some Asado. During this time, we also were treated to another 4 generous samples of wine. We finished things off with some helado for desert and were off to our final vineyard. Lastly, we visited Carinae, a small, french-owned vineyard. The owner, an astronomy enthusiast, named the Vineyard Carinae after what he felt is the most beautiful constellation in the southern hemisphere. We were all treated to another tour of the facilities and an explanation of how wine is produced (we didn’t care this time, considering we were all a little buzzed). In the end, we were treated to 4 more samples of wine. This was the tour that I was hoping to have. Obviously, I splurged a bit for this one, but it was well worth it.
At this point, I felt like the heat and humidity were getting to me. I needed some cooler weather, and Patagonia was calling.