What did the grape say when he got trodden on? He let out a little wine…
A classic there to start off this one about wine drinking in the Mendoza region of Argentina. From the big, more modern city of Buenos Aires, to the more relaxed region of Mendoza. We decided to spend a few days here having a relax and taking advantage of the region’s vineyard heritage. The Mendoza region is home to some of Argentina’s most famous winemakers.
We started our stay in a town called San Rafael and stayed in a cosy little hostel called Rogupani Hostel. We were only here for 1 night but the timing of our busses gave us 2 full days to get out and explore. On our first day we decided to go hire some bikes and hit the wineries. San Rafael caters really well to the vineyard touring cyclist with its many cycle paths. They lead all the way out of the town down the main road with all the wineries on. We travelled out on this for about 10km for our first winery. This was a really fancy one called Bianchi. Unfortunately we just missed the last English speaking tour, but we joined a Spanish one anyway, and this guy who was also on it very kindly started translating what the guide was saying, so we still got our tour. Win! He got a few free glasses of wine out of it from the winery as well, so double win.
The last winery on the tour was the first one built in the town, and in fact the one that created the town. It was called Bodega La Abeja. This translates to the winery of the bee, as when they were harvesting all the grapes, the sugars would attract lots of bees. The chap who started the winery (Iselin) needed a way to get his wine to the masses, and to do that he needed the trains, and to get the trains to come to him he needed a town big enough to make it worthwhile. So what did he do? He started building a town, this also meant he could start building places for workers to live too.
This was all around the time (late 1800’s) Argentina was on a growth drive and was asking anybody and everybody to come and live there. In return they were giving away land. This meant there were lots of immigrants coming into the country looking for a piece of the land pie at this time, and Iselin went to Buenos Aires to find people that would like some land near him. All very interesting.
Day 2 of San Rafael we had an ace day biking and white water rafting, which we will cover in a separate post. That evening we jumped on a bus to the main town in the Mendoza region; Mendoza. We had a bit of booking mix up here so had find another hostel to stay at. The hostel that the booking was messed up for did let us stay that night though (it was 1am when we arrived), and we found a new one the next day. Ended up staying at Hostel Suites Mendoza for the few days. We had a rest day for our first day in Mendoza so just chilled out. In the evening we went out to check out the Mendoza central mercado on the hunt for a snack, and ended up having a parrillada (a big hot plate of meats) for two in the market. It started raining so we just went back to the hostel after this and got some shut eye.
The following day we woke up and headed to maipu for a bike day at the wineries. We went to a family owned winery first (dominvio) for a drink but it looked really nice for a wine tasting tour. We couldn’t do the tour as we were trying to make our way to the old winery for a tour at 12.
12 o’clock and we reached bodega La Rural. We paid 200 pesos each (about 8 British pounds) for the tour, but you can exchange this towards a bottle of wine at the end, so technically the tour is free. We would give this one a pass next time, as we didn’t get anything special from the tour really. Wine was nice though…
Next was our favourite, Trapiche. These guys are experimenting with new technology and new organic ways of making wine. E.g.. harvesting when it’s the new moon or full moon and they had cows and other animals in their wineries. We got to taste wine as he did the tour which was enjoyable. We both liked the higher altitude wines grown in the Uco Valley. Something to do with how much sun they get which makes the grape skin thicker and have more flavour. Their sweet white wine which you get on a late harvest was also our favourite.
We then cycled to the last winery of the day, Mevi to get some late lunch which came with a bottle of wine! The view is lovely here, but it’s not value for money and there are too many flies buzzing around hope you eat, which is a shame. The food wasn’t anything to shout about either really. We then cycled back to maipu bikes where they had happy hour and served us free homemade wine. Nice. We got some empanadas to go with it and listened to the people next to us talk about how to live a balanced life and contribute towards the world we want to live in.
So we jumped on the bus back to Mendoza and went to check our the wine harvest festival they had going on in plaza independicia (main square in the town). From what we gathered there are 18 states in Mendoza and they were about to crown who would be the wine queen. It was a pagent followed by dancers performing. Further up the road all the wineries were in town and you can buy a glass for 280 pesos and have 6 full glasses of wine from various wineries. By this time we had too much wine so gave this a miss and instead got some McDonald’s!
Overall, our time in the Mendoza region wine tasting was great. We both would have liked a little more time in San Rafael though, as it was a lovely little town.
Some pictures from the two days below.
Next up, the biking and white water rafting day!! Also, let us know what you think so far in the comments. Is there anything else you would like to know in the posts?