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B.U.I. (Biking Under the Influence)

March 17, 2011

We just spent 2 days in the wine country of Argentina and loved it!

On the first day, we got in to a city named Mendoza  from an overnight bus ride and checked into our hostel.  Our room wasn’t ready so we decided to go and explore the new city.  Mendoza had a devastating earthquake in 1861 that destroyed most of the town.  When they rebuilt, they made really wide streets and a lot of large, open plazas for people to evacuate to in case of another bad earthquake.  The wide streets and plazas make Mendoza a very picturesque and gorgeous South American city to visit.  For a long time we simply sat and enjoyed a fountain in one of the larger parks and the weather was perfect at about 75 degrees and sunny.  We then proceeded to spend the rest of the day just wondering around and trying to stay out of trouble.

Headed down the road to the next winery

As our appetites developed, we finally sat down at an open-air restaurant on the main street and tried a sandwich that we had been hearing about – lomo completo.  It is some sort of steak beef with ham, egg, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and I don’t even know what else… but it was awesome!  From there, we did our research into several tours that would take us to the various vineyards the next day.  A lot of them were several hundred dollars per person, which is a little out of our price range, so we decided to go with one named “Mr. Hugo’s bike and wine.”  Pretty simple concept I guess, you have a bike and you have a bunch of vineyards.  Put them together and it is a day of biking and drinking Argentine wines.

Mr. Hugo!

The next morning we got in our transfer headed for a region called Maipu where a lot of the vineyards are located.  It took about 20 minutes to get there and we both laughed that it wasn’t much like Napa when you pulled up – at all.  We got our bikes from Mr. Hugo, who was pretty awesome himself, and left on our journey a bit skeptical of what we would find.

For the first few kilometers, there was no bike path, just an unpaved, bumpy road that we shared with cars and large trucks that would kick up a ton of dust as we rode past.  And then there was road construction so had to detour for a while, but once we got past that there it was a paved road which seemed like a luxury!

After a 3km ride, we ended up at our first vineyard, Tempus Alba.  We decided to do the basic tasting and really liked their wines – especially the Malbec which the region is known for and of which it produces the most.  They had a great balcony upstairs that overlooked the vines and Andes mountain range and was so nice that we debated whether to go on or spend the day there!  Eventually we decided we would stay a little longer and have lunch which turned out to be an excellent steak with vegetables and mashed potatoes…one of our best meals in Argentina.

The first stop on our winery tour

After a sluggish decision, we finally came to the conclusion that we should move on and discover a new place and so we headed to the next winery that was another 3 km ride away – Carinae.  This stretch of the bike ride was really pretty with vineyards on the side of the road with the Andes behind, and Steven of course loved being on a bike and decided to start doing tricks.  This was naturally more interesting after a couple glasses of wine.  On a side note, according to Steven I become a much better biker after I have had a bit to drink… I think because I was less nervous about being hit by a car. 

In the wine cellar at a boutique winery

At the boutique vineyard, Carinae, we did a tour and tasting that was quicker that all the others.  The owners of this vineyard are French and came to Mendoza for work over a decade ago and ended up retiring here and buying the winery in 2003.  We really enjoyed the experience of Carinae and our private tour from a cute little local but the wines were not our favorite of the day.  Regardless we purchased a bottle and are now sitting on a rooftop in Buenos Aires writing this post and enjoying the bottle.

Then we started heading back to town but stopped along the way at Familia Di Tomaso, which has been family run for 4 generations.  We took the tour of their old winery and it was cool to see the way that they made wine in Mendoza over a hundred years ago.  The wines were stored in adobe containers which helped keep the temperature cool.  We ended the tour with a tasting that we really enjoyed, but they all started to run together at this point.  Back on the bikes we began to head back to Mr. Hugo’s to return the bikes and get back to Mendoza but decided to stop by Tempus Alba (our first stop) for one more glass – we are so glad we did.

Our new friend in Mendoza, Guillermo

We went back up to the porch to split one glass of wine and enjoy the view and awesome weather.  As we were leaving a guy named Guillermo asked us a question, and after talking with him for a few minutes invited us to pull a chair up.  We sat and talked for a while longer and found out that he was from Argentina but grew up in Brazil and the US.  His parents had retired and bought a vineyard and go back and forth between the States and Mendoza, and he was visiting to help with the business while he was between jobs.  He was extremely nice and taught us a ton about the wineries and the entire wine making process.  (don’t forget, you can always click on pictures for a larger view!)

Additionally, besides giving us a ride back to Mr. Hugo’s, he offered to take us by his parents vineyards for a tour.  The house was really neat and interesting to see a local home, plus it was great to walk through the vineyards and taste grapes.  They have a great view of their vineyard with the Andes behind and was perfect as the sun began to set behind the mountains.  Before long, we were back to Mr. Hugo’s so we could return our day’s mode of transportation and get back to Mendoza to catch our overnight bus.  If we could have stayed longer in Mendoza, I’m sure we would be hanging out with our new friend and Steven would have been able to go hangliding.

Ladies, it is definitely a place for a future girl’s trip!


One Comment leave one →
  1. Morgan permalink
    March 21, 2011 10:38

    I LOVE your beard. I feel like the beard is not getting enough shout outs. It is highly impressive.

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