From the large and lively city of Buenos Aires we headed next to the small and calm city of Mendoza, Argentina in search for the promising vineyards it's well known for. We had hoped to visit some vineyards all over the world while we traveled, especially while were in Italy, Spain and Portugal. However, we never made the time for such activities so our visit to the vineyards in Mendoza was long overdue.
The first A+ decision we made was our choice of hostel. Hostel Independencia was a few dollars more a night than we cared to pay, but the location and atmosphere were excellent – plus they had a free wine hour every night! While they also offered guided tours of the wineries within Mendoza, they weren't cheap so we opted for a self-guided tour to save some dinero.
On a tip from one of Ed's many well-traveled friends, we found that we could rent bicycles in Maipu, one of the main wine producing areas of Mendoza, and essentially go “vineyard hopping”. After a minor incident of not being able to find the correct bus stop, we soon the boarded a local bus bound for Maipu. Arriving about thirty minutes later we found Mr. Hugo – Wineries and Bikes where we could rent our bikes.
All the wineries were located off one main street, so we biked about 4 km to the farthest one to begin. The plan here was that it's best to start out far and bike our way closer back toward the bike return so that we don't have to ride very far to return after several wine tastings. Once out of the main town, the vineyards are located off two-lane street heavily sheltered by rows of trees on either side creating the perfect ambiance for a casual bike ride.
At the first stop, we took a (mediocre) tour of the vineyard where they showed us how they make and store the wine. I don't know about Ed and Auston, but all I kept thinking was “Yea, yea. You make wine from grapes. Got it. Now when can we have some?” Well we didn't have to wait long and soon we were sipping fantastic varieties and blends. I only wish they poured them like they did in Uruguay – to the top!
We only had time for two more vineyards after that because we had arrived later in the day and Ed's bike also had a flat tire forcing us to stay longer at the second one. But if you're going to be stuck somewhere with a flat tire, a vineyard might be the best place on earth.
Back at the hostel that evening, it was time to eat dinner in for a change since our hostel had a decent kitchen for us to take advantage of. I wish I could say we paired our meal with water after the vineyard extravaganza that day, but no. It was Mendoza and we were going to have just one more glass of wine!