This is the final article of a three-part South American Adventure series.
PART THREE: ARGENTINA
The wine capital of Argentina, Mendoza, boasts some of the world’s leading wines and is a peaceful contrast to the touristy, clamoring metropolis of Buenos Aires.
After trekking through Inca Land in Peru and hiking Patagonia’s icy trails in Chile, a traveler will be thirsting for a glass of Argentinian Malbec, and maybe a pour of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo as well. But instead of ordering from a posh restaurant in Buenos Aires, where one may drink with more tourists than Argentinians, why not go to the country’s motherland of vino to sip straight from the vineyards?
Above: Vineyard in Mendoza’s Maipu region.
Over 80% of Argentina’s wine comes from Mendoza, a western region in foothills of the Andes. Sunshine glows over the endless rows of grapes during the growing season and transforms them into some of the world’s best wines. Malbec, a dark red wine with berry and spice aromas, is known to grow better here than anywhere in the world, producing award winners and famous wines sold everywhere.
Above: With these choice Argentinian wines, it’s difficult to know where to start.
Pick up a bike, winery map and bottle of water from “Bikes and Wines,” (30 minutes by local bus out of Mendoza’s city center in the town of Maipu) and start pedaling through sycamore-shaded lanes to your choice of 11 wineries, all within a few kilometers of each other.
Above: The ride between wineries
Above: Rent a bike and park at all of the wineries for free.
Some wineries have extravagant patios overlooking their estate, where wine lovers sample three full glasses for about $6 US. Others give a gratis tasting followed by a tour of their cellar and a demonstration of the wine-making process.
Above: Winery tours of oak barrels and the process complement the tastings.
Although it would be nice to sample everything, this may lead to a wobbly ride, so it is encouraged to split the tour into two days rather than to miss anything. Wine tasting can be done between meals of fresh salads or juicy steaks, found at Di Tommaso winery and cafe. Other treats are abundant in the Liqueur and Chocolateria named Historias & Sabores, where visitors can sample minty or hazelnut chocolate liqueurs, potent absinthe, or homemade salsas and jams. Bikers may choose this as their last stop, since it is hard to pass up buying souvenir bottles and jars of these specialties, which will need to be toted back with leg power alone.
Above: Homemade goods of Historias & Sabores
Another wine route exists a bit further out of town also through “Bikes and Wines.” The main deciding factor as to which route to take lies in whether one prefers drinkable chocolate and wine as mentioned previously or the lickable type; a “Heladeria,” or ice cream factory, exists on this second ride. After expending much energy to power a bicycle between wineries, one is rewarded with large quantities of Argentina’s famous ice cream. Flavors such as Malbec (a wine cream), dulce de leche (a carmel spread), mascarpone (a creamy cheese with berries), and maracuja (passion fruit sorbet) are sold by the scoop. One will find that Argentinians love large quantities of this dessert and it’s often served in half kilo containers, which is over a pound of ice cream, for those who have REALLY pedaled hard!
Above: A tasting of chocolate liqueur is an option on one of the wine routes.
Travelers surely rave about Argentina’s sweets, steaks, and especially the wine, which all promise to round out this three part journey through South America. This last stop in Argentina’s wine country is the perfect aide to celebrate an amazing three-country tour.
Above: Cheers to finishing the South American adventure trip!