When I thought of traveling to Argentina, I was most looking forward to Mendoza. Mendoza=Wine. And really, really good wine. I couldn’t wait to get off that 18 hour bus from Salta and start hitting the wineries. If you’re from California, my biggest advice would to not go Mendoza imagining the picturesque scenery of the Napa Valley. It’s much, much different. But after our first glass of wine and a delicious meal – Napa Valley what?
We stayed at a Hostel Mora Mendoza, which is in walking distance to many places and the hostel has a great travel desk with activities and tours available for each day. I knew coming in that I wanted to go on a horseback riding tour and a bike wine tasting adventure. Both were the highlights of our five days in Mendoza.
We booked the horseback riding tour through the hostel, which was great since they picked us up and dropped us off door to door. Our tour guide was an outgoing, young, Argentinian guy who generously shared his yurba mate with us on the ride into the mountains. Once we arrived at the stables, we got geared up onto the horses and were off into the Andes mountains.
There was a group of about ten of us and everyone was really friendly and nice, which always makes for a better tour. After a couple of hours, we returned on the horses and were welcomed back with a delicious BBQ with wine. If this doesn’t scream Argentina, I don’t know what does. Those Argentinians love their BBQ, and they do it extremely well. Our group had such a fun time eating, sipping wine, and socializing, and before we knew it, it was time to head out. John and I kept the party going with a bit more complementary wine from the hostel, and then called it an early night. How those Argentinians stay up so late is beyond me.
Another must do in Mendoza is the bike wine tour, which is just outside the city. The hostel, along with many other tour agencies, offer packages for this which includes transport and bike rentals. But this time, we decided to discover this on our own. We took the local bus to Maipu and of course, got off at the wrong stop, but thankfully so did another German couple. We all walked about 45 minutes to Mr. Hugo’s Bike Tours, which was highly recommended from several people. Mr. Hugo greeted us with open arms and quickly got us set up with our bikes. Moments later, all four of us were peddling off to our first wine tasting. Uh oh – this could be dangerous.
We started at a nearby wine tasting room that offers several varietals from the area. The man who led our tasting was super helpful and friendly. He was very informative and even poured us some of his own wine out of a pinguino, a traditional wine decanter that has been used throughout Argentina for several years. After some laughs and silly photos, we decided to head to our next destination. Like I said, this could be dangerous.
Our next stop was Trapiche winery. Now this was aesthetically the closest place I came across that reminded me of the Napa Valley. It felt like wine tasting at home. Well, at least until the taster came out and gave us three bottles of wine and told us to go enjoy the view on the patio. Ok, a pour it yourself kind of place, I can deal with that! The winery has a gorgeous view from their deck and the only reason we left was because our wine was out. Oh yeah, and after all that wine we probably needed some lunch.
Next, we went to Tempus Alba, which was recommended to me from a fellow traveller that I met back in Colombia. We all headed out for some food, and maybe one (or two) more tastings. The view here was comparably beautiful to Trapiche and the food and wine were equally spectacular. We enjoyed a long lunch with wine tasting that paired perfectly with our meals. After all that, it was time to head back. Thankfully I only had a small fall the entire trip on the bike. In my defense, it’s because I was trying to pose for a photo that someone was taking of me (while I happened to be moving) and then a small ditch popped out of nowhere. SO not my fault! 😉
After a few days in Mendoza, I was so ready to move on to our next destination. Surprisingly, I wasn’t wine’d out yet, and luckily for me, Argentina has incredible wine everywhere. So off to Cordoba we go!