Attraction: Wine, mountains and good times. First time out of Buenos Aires since arrival.
Cliff notes: love love loved Mendoza the scenery was amazing, the wine and bike tour a must. My only regret was we didn’t have more time to go up into the mountains. Not to worry though the great Andes cover a large chunk of Sout America so I do believe we will meet again.
Other great activities include rafting, skiing and other adventures in the nearby Andes.
The Tale: After touching down in BA and recovering from jetlag there was no time to spare with our first weekend getaway to organise. Weekend getaway planning criteria, wine, sun and adventure. Destination Mendoza.
Mendoza is a city in western Argentina approx. 1,000km drive from BsAs or a 1.5hour flight. The climate is dry and rain is rare. However the lucky travellers that we are, we got to enjoy the exceptional experience of rain in Mendoza on our very first night.
Touching down in Mendoza you are welcomed with a glorious compilation of mountains and vineyards. On first impressions of the city I was surprised by the size. Unlike many wine regions in Australia, Mendoza is quite big and takes the crown for the fourth biggest city in Argentina. For a desert town Mendoza is a bustling city with leafy avenues and cosmopolitan cafes. Mention Mendoza to anyone in Argentina and they instantly associate it with wine. And the reason for my gravitation to the city.
After checking into our hostel it was time to plan what adventures would take place across the weekend. High on the list of priorities was wine and horse riding.
The decision was made to take an afternoon wine bus tour to get to know the area. A little more educational than expected, we went deep into the wineries and learned about the machinery and process involved in producing the perfect drop. As expected when paying a low price for a wine tour they do not bring out the top shelf bottles to impress you. All you hear are the stories of how fabulous their top dollar wines are whilst they pour you a tasting of their low end wine.
Taking the bus out of town we had our fingers crossed that we were heading in the right direction. Stepping off the bus we chose a bike rental company and picked our bikes for the day.
With map in hand there were about 10 wineries marked to visit. As at the start of any winery tour you are quite ambitious and believe you can see them all and that is when you are travelling by bus. Add in the combination of sun, riding a bike after a few drinks and riding a bike on the opposite side of the road our achievement was closer to 6/10.
Along the way we also stopped in at a liquor, absinthe and chocolate place where we made our first purchase for the day Dulce de leche liquor. Mmmm could not wait to head home and drink this straight up with ice. However before that could happen there were more wineries to visit.
Our lunchtime stop was at a bohemian backyard restaurant that had shade for the bikes, comfy couches and beer, wine and pizza to satisfy our tastebuds. It was quite easy to spend time here relaxing and enjoying the afternoon. P.S the pizza here is definitely some of the best pizza we have had.
After lunch was the time our wine tour really started to kick into gear. With 2 large glasses of wine and a tasting of beer over lunch (note the glasses were closer to pint size rather than tasting sizes). Fingers crossed we make the last bus back.
Whilst waiting for our tasting at one of the wineries I had my first experience of being mistaken as an Argentine when someone asked me to take their photo. Greeting with a friendly “hola” and keeping conversation to a minimal I managed to disguise my Australian accent.
My favourite winery of the day was Mevi. The wine was amazing and the scenery stunning.
Feeling quite chuffed we made it back to the bike rental company still standing. It was here that the damage began with a few more wines whilst chatting with the other tourists. Before we knew it many more glasses of wine had been drunk and the last bus of the night was about to leave. The bus ride taught me speaking in Spanish is all about confidence.
The next day consisted of a relaxing morning looking around the city of Mendoza followed by a sunset horse riding and dinner tour.
Silly city slicker me, didn’t think to pack pants in preparation for adventures in the great outdoors. The gauchos very kindly gave me the biggest stallion of the fleet to avoid the shrub scratching my legs and my man friend somehow managed to get the donkey looking horse.
As we took one last look at the mountains it was time to say hasta luego to Mendoza.