March 6, 2019
Mendoza Province of Argentina
July 22 through August 4, 2018
Author: Jetta Washington
Beautiful. Easy. Resusciating. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Argentina, the perfect wanderlust experience, especially after volunteer teaching for nearly 5 months in Chile. Stella got her groove back in Jamaica and we got ours back in Argentina, commonly referred to as the Paris of South America. Reclaiming our time and a rebirth of endless travel adventures reignited here.
The epicenter of wine for Argentina rests in the Mendoza Province. The territory is known as one of the great wine capitals in the world is an excellent place to explore great cuisine, wine and jaw dropping landscapes.
Beginning our bus route from La Ligua, Chile, it took 5 hours to arrive in the small town of Mendoza, Argentina. Accommodations at Windmill Hostel proved to be a great decision. Windmill is a clean, safe, hospitable, family-run establishment. The hosts and everyone who works there are simply amazing! We found them all to be warm, inviting, and concerned about our welfare and experience. This was easily the very best hostel we’ve stayed in. We could not have been more happy that we stayed here and made lifetime friends.
With cafes, plazas, world-class restaurants
Using the city of Mendoza as a base, we decided exploring Argentina would involve touring various wine regions, a visit to Aconcagua National Park and taking an ambitious and adventurous road trip up to the northern part of the country.
More wine please?
WINE TOURS, UCO VALLEY
Can you imagine drinking wine directly from the maker’s vineyard? We couldn’t imagine it either, until we did it. Our first wine tour did not disappoint. Renting a vehicle and driving from the city of Mendoza to Zorzal Winery was an event! Located in the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley, Zorzal lies at the base of Mount Tupungato, which at 21,555 feet high, is one of the highest peaks in Argentina. The altitude of the vineyards along with the moderate to high temperatures in lower latitudes produce some of the more full-bodied red wines in the world. We were fortunate to partake in an exclusive wine tour with a most excellent tour guide, Noeila. She answered questions and offered detailed information on the wine making process while providing unlimited amounts of wine. Delicious varieties ranging from Pinot Noir to Sauvignon Blanc to Malbec while in the fermentation process and consumed directly from the barrels provided a strong after effect and had us inebriated beyond measure. Having the experience amidst a breathtaking and beautiful backdrop of the Andes mountains is what made this particular winery our favorite.
After our tour, we dined at Domain Bousquet, which we recommend if you’re in the Tupungato area and want great ambiance with good and visually appealing food. Enjoying our wine paired lunch, which came with two full bottles of wine, our bellies were stuffed and we were wined out of our minds!
If you want a private tour with access to unlimited amounts of wine directly from the barrels, concrete wine pools and bottles while being surrounded by awe-striking landscapes, we highly recommend Zorzal Winery.
Photos from our Private Wine Tour at Zorzal Winery
Restaurant experience @ Domain Bousquet
Climate & Environmental Conditions Matter
WINE TOURS, LUJAN DE CUYO
The Lujan Cuyo wine region is where Malbec is king. This region produces the best Malbec wines in the world; dense, dark, full bodied and rich in flavor. Although Malbec wine started in France, per our tour guide, the French did not cultivate or perfect its taste. As a matter of fact, according to him, France’s idea of Malbec is that it is a poor quality wine. Welp, in walks Argentina. What the French did in dismissing this wine, they perfected it!
But how did Malbec arrive in Argentina?
It helps to have a wine enthusiast as your Commander-in-Chief. On April 17, 1853, Argentine President Domingo Faustino sought to grow the country’s wine production by ordering 80,000 acres of nursery plants to be imported into Mendoza for the sole purpose of growing vines to produce Malbec. As a result, Argentina has become the largest producer of the Malbec variety and every year since, April 17th has been declared World Malbec Day.
Certain wines thrive in certain conditions and environments. For example, Sauvignon Blanc in the USA is grown in colder climates than a climate like Mendoza. Therefore, the flavor and taste of a Sauvignon Blanc in the USA is different than a Sauvignon Blanc from wine region of Mendoza, Argentina. The Mendoza wine region is more green, which means the flavors are much more fruitier in taste than they are in the USA.
Malbec thrives in Argentina because of the climate and the conditions. Add that to the fact that the winemakers of the country have taken their time in crafting and perfecting it to a ’T’ to the point of providing “The Malbec Experience” at Bodega Tierras Atlas in the Lujan Cuyo region.
The tour at Tierras Atlas gives an added dimension. Not only was it educational; we learned about wine chemistry, participated in pruning the vines, but what stunned us was the Bodega’s onsite restaurant, Juana Maria. A 4-course lunch, the food at Juana Maria surpassed our expectations! The food was prepared with care and love. It literally melted in our mouths and was perfectly delicious. We have travelled extensively and experienced quite a few things together, including great meals. This by far was our favorite in South America.
An exquisite and mouth watering 4-course lunch at Tierras Atlas’ Restaurant
If you are a bit of a nerd and want a flavorful and well prepared meal with great Malbec wine, we highly recommend “The Malbec Experience at Bodega Tierras Atlas.” Be sure to send Freddie (tour guide) and Daniel (restaurant host) our regards.
Don’t drink and drive
A common activity is to rent bicycles and ride to as many wineries in a day as possible. Maipu was the final region we visited in Mendoza.Taking public transportation to the city of Maipu, we rented bicycles to tour the various bodegas in the area. The fun and difficulty in riding a bike before and after having so much wine, was hilarious. From the difficulty Vanessa faced with operating the bike to feeling rushed because we had a visitor with us to finally finishing up, we were exhausted.
The great thing about this region is that it is the oldest wine region in the Mendoza Province. Plus there is no need to book a tour. Taking public transportation to the city of Maipu, we rented bicycles from Maipu Bikes so that we could tour the various bodegas in the area. The fun and difficulty in riding a bike after having so much wine, was hilarious.
The bike shop owners gave us a map of the region with the wineries listed along with the cost of the tastings, earmarking which ones cost and which ones were free. We chose Bodega La Rural, the oldest winery in the Mendoza Province. With the purchase of a voucher that grants entry into its onsite museum and 3 wine tastings of Chardonnay, Cabernet and Malbec each, we left Bodgea La Rural with 2 bottles of wine before all was said and done.
Upon our return to Maipu Bikes, we were met with a happy hour by the owners of the bike shop. This meant more wine for us! The great thing about the happy hour was sharing our stories with the other bike renters about trying to bicycle through the region lit up like the 4th of July. In that sharing, we learned from the other renters that it would have been best to go to the wineries that were the furthermost away first and work our way back to the shop. In hindsight, this made so much sense. It would have saved us so much more time and energy going downhill upon our return, (after having wine in our system), rather than going uphill from the set.
In addition to its wines, Mendoza is also known for its olive groves and Maipu happens to be one of the largest olive oil producing regions in Argentina. With that in mind we made our visit to Entre Olivos, a boutique olive oil establishment that also carried various sweet flavored liqueurs and chocolates.
If your desire is to indulge in the red wine experience, we highly recommend touring vineyards in the various wine regions of Mendoza, Argentina. Whenever we get back to Argentina, Mendoza is definitely on the list.
At Entre Olivos