Mendoza is a city north of Buenos Aires where almost two thirds of the country’s wine is manufactured, the province produces over a billion litres of wine per year (so you can tell why it was on our must-do list). Driving into the city all you see is wide open spaces with nothing but vines, set on a backdrop of snowcapped mountains and blue skies… it’s pretty magical. The wineries in Mendoza range from small, family owned bodegas, to bigger mass production ones exporting millions of litres per year. We spent a Tuesday afternoon in the region of Maipu, just outside of Mendoza town, renting bikes and cycling around various wineries… which if you ever happen to find yourself in the area, is a beautiful and extremely fun way to spend a day.
We got up at 9am and drove towards the area (if you have no car, the metro is just as easy). Bikes rented from Wine & Ride, we were ready to set off (this place is especially good because they offer you a complimentary glass of red wine and an empañada on your return!) There are approximately 20 wineries in Maipu, but it’s best to aim for around 3 in a day. The first one we visited was about a 30 minute cycle away from the rental shop, and it was called Bodega Cecchin. We particularly liked this one because of their ethos; it’s an organic winery who pride themselves on staying clear of the usage of pesticides or anything that may damage the vines. Instead, they fight against unwanted bugs naturally, using ladybugs, or natural filters such as fruit trees, attracting the bugs towards these other fruits and therefore keeping them away from the precious grapes. At Cecchin, everything is used and recycled, even the stems are recycled as part of a natural compost. The tour was free, and the tasting 100 pesos for 3 glasses (£4). After an hour or so wandering round we hopped back on the bikes and headed towards the next one.
Carinae bodega was equally as informative and enjoyable. It is a bodega run by a French couple who started the vineyard in 2003, composed of 20 hectares of vines, producing 80,000 litres of wine per year. Again, this experience was not expensive, the tour was 30 pesos and the tasting 60, adding up to just under £4. Opposite Carinae is an olive farm where you can pop in to try some delicious olive oil and other products made there. After these next few glasses, getting back on our bikes was interesting! Luckily the route you cycle is not so much on the main roads, so its less dangerous.
After stopping en route back for some much needed ice cream, we made it to bodega Lopez. This one is ideal to finish at, as it’s unique and rather different to most of the others in the area… another reason is the tour and tasting are both free! Be aware that the last tour in English is at 15:30, and although you may feel as if you’ve done two tours already, this one is definitely worth it as it is just so wildly different. Lopez is a mass production bodega, making 50 million litres of wine per year (though 10 is kept aside for making blends or for further ageing). The several metal casks of wine literally tower over your head, its almost hard to believe they are full of alcohol! Even the machines used for the pressing of the grapes are genuinely about 10 times bigger than the smaller bodegas. Lopez is really close to Wine & Ride, the bike rental shop, which is another reason to finish the day off there to make sure you hand the bikes back over by 6pm. It also means that after 3 separate tastings you don’t have to cycle too far, which by the end we decided was definitely a good idea.
WHAT TO BRING:
Water! You will definitely need a big bottle per person
Some snacks to keep you going, as it’s a full day’s activity
Cash to pay for the tastings/any bottles you may want to buy at the end