If there’s one thing anyone should do when they come to Mendoza, it’s visit a bodega. That’s a winery not a convenient store. To get a tour of some bodegas you’ll have to shell out almost $300 per person which includes walking around the vineyard, listening to someone talk about how wine is made and maybe do some tasting. From what we’ve heard, all tours are the same…because all wine is made the same. So, us backpacker types go a different route. For more bang for your buck with a splash of adventure, we bike and wine. It’s exactly what you might think it is. Rent a bike and ride from one winery to the next, tasting along the way!
We held off in this trip until the Alaskans, from Postcard Valet, arrived from Santiago. The more the merrier when biking and wining, of course. Arlo, Oksana, their friend Anya, Dusty and I bussed out to wine country and hopped on our rented bikes from Mr. Hugo’s.
We thought biking back from the end after a bunch of tastings was a not so responsible idea. So, we began by biking 10 km to the furthest location which happened to not be a winery at all but an olive oil factory. Olives might be mine and Dusty’s most despised foods, but the olive farm was pretty cool looking. “Laur Aceite de Oliva”: had a beautiful olive grove and store. As much as we hate olives, we totally dig olive oil. So, we poked around for a bit.
That got old real quick…we needed wine in our mouths. So, across the street we went to a bodega. We took a look around and tasted some grapes, which I’m not sure is allowed. We also quickly learned that if we were going to taste wines at every bodega, we were going to be spending more than we brought with us plus not be able to see straight. There were 7 wineries on the tour map. Each tasting was going to cost around 20 pesos ($5) each and would include 3 types of wine. We decided to pass this place up and head to the next winery.
The next place we came to was Vistandes, which was quite different than the humble looking bodega we had just left. It was fancy and had a gate with a guard. It was on our map but was a bit intimidating. The guard told us that a tasting would cost 15 pesos each and would also include a tour. We were in. Can you hear Dusty chanting now? WINE, WINE, WINE!
Vistandes was pretty cool. You know we felt out of place in our sweaty biking clothes when we the entrance to the building was an art gallery. Sweaty and all, they took us on a tour explaining, in English and Spanish, how the wine is made. We were told that this Vistandes is a boutique winery and only makes a million bottles per year (only!).
After the tour we finally got our much anticipated tasting. Man, was it delicious! We tried their Vistandes Torrontes. We had never tried a Torrontes type before and it was so good. Next, we tried Alto Las Tacas Cabernet Sauvignon. Also delicious! We were really happy that our tour guide didn’t mind that we weren’t quite sure we got a good taste the first time. We had to “taste” them again.
We tried to pace ourselves. We did have something like 5 more bodegas to hit up. Off we were to try some more, although things didn’t turn out the way we intended. We stopped at the next bodega hoping to get a snack with some wine, but we left because it was really busy and the food was pricey. The next one we stopped at was done serving food and we waited awhile without any service. We were really excited about the next one, Tempus Alba, as we had heard good things about it. So, we crossed the street hoping to finally partake in their good wine. Unfortunately, it was closed. The next bodega and the wine museum were also closed. There went our dreams of weaving in and out of traffic while biking buzzed. Finally, we reached the last stop of the tour.
Club del Olivo a la Antigua was another olive farm, but with much, much more. Aside from olives and olive oil, they also make dips, spreads, dulce de leche, chocolate and booze including absinthe! We took a short tour of the grounds and the areas where they make the goods. Then we got to the good part, tasting! We first tasted the oils and spreads. Dusty and I enjoyed their jalapeño spread and dulce de leche with coconut which we bought and brought home with us. The last tasting was a shot of whatever you wanted. They had homemade liquors such schnapps, whiskey and absinthe. We all chose something different and then passed them around. We had clear German whiskey, absinthe, dulce de leche with banana and chocolate, pear schnapps and rose petal schnapps. Arlo lovingly describes each tasting like (in order) “ass, ass, heaven, ass and soap”. I’d have to agree with him. But, then again, when has anyone ever thought that shots actually taste good. Vodka? Whiskey? No way. You’re supposed to choke that stuff down, right?
So, that was the end of our bike and wine tour. Not much wine, but lots of biking and lots of fun, nonetheless. We returned our bikes to Mr. Hugo where we were served a complimentary glass of wine. At the beginning of the tour I was wondering why anyone would want more wine after visiting 7 wineries. Strangely and unexpectedly, we did!
To see more photos of Mendoza and this adventure, click here.
Details of What We Visited
|Location||Included||Cost Per Person|
|Mr. Hugo’s||bike rental, tour map, bottle of water and glass of wine||35 pesos or $8.70 USD|
|Vistandes||winery tour and wine tasting||15 pesos or $3.73 USD|
|Club del Olivo a la Antigua||tour and tasting of olives, spreads, liquors and chocolate||15 pesos or $3.73 USD|