Mendoza is one of those places everyone talks about. A quaint town in the hills surrounded by wineries with laughing tourists biking amidst the peaceful scenery between wine tastings. At least that’s what I pictured…
In reality it works like this: you arrive off a 21 hour bus (maybe that’s just me) to a big city. To be fair the bus is epic with snacks and movies and a chance to win wine playing Bingo…but you arrive grumpy. You have two options in regards to the region’s wine: A) book a tour or B) rent a bike and DIY. You like adventure so you opt for Option B.
You gather a crew and hop on a bus to a place called Maipu. It’s a 45 minute early morning ride. Renting a bike is cheap and easy and the bike man will recommend a place with free empanadas. You came for the wineries but backpackers are easily swayed by free food. It’s unanimous; your first stop is the empanadas.
The empanada man offers a cheap tasting so you sit in his roadside bar for an hour. The wine quantities are hefty and you leave slightly tipsy, hopping on your bike for stop two.
The wineries are not placed between grassy hills like you pictured. You pedal along a busy road teeming with fruit trucks. You see a dog get hit by a car along the way….you arrive to your first winery emotionally scarred.
Your crew came for a wine tasting but it’s cheaper to buy bottles. You underestimate the amount of alcohol and leave drunk. It’s 2 pm and you have yet to actually take a tour of a winery. You head back to the open road (cautiously…that dog though).
Your next stop seems fancy so you’re stoked. Posted signs mark a DIY tour of the premises. You’re bored so buy a taster’s palette and sit sippin’. It’s 4 pm so you wobble back to your bike and get a move on.
You attempt more wineries but they’ve all closed. You head back to the empanada place for Happy Hour. It’s 2 for 1 glasses of wine but Empanada Man has taken a liking to your table. He keeps giving you half bottles to finish. You are drunker than one should be after a day of tastings. You hop on a bus and call it a day.
That is Option B in Mendoza. A bit messy but adventurous. Not your kind of jam? The next day I splurged on Option A.
A tour van picks you up from your hostel. You make friends in the van on the way. Your first winery is 10x nicer than yesterday’s best. The wine quantities offered are small. You talk about the wine’s colour and aroma. You take a selfie and feel fancy AF.
Your next stop is even nicer than the first. You receive a full tour of the premises. You learn about the wine as you waft and swish casually. You’re van friends are disappointed they’re not drunk. You’re happy because you think is how a wine tour should be. Happy clap for feeling like a grown up.
You visit your final winery of the day. It’s beautiful and you’re in love with basically everything. You drink the absolute best wine you’ve ever tasted. You leave completely sober but satisfied.
Green hills, grazing cattle and serenity? Mendoza was not what I expected. But, surprises aside, I liked the place. My suggestion? Make time for both tour options like I did. Completely different experiences but both are a great time in their own right.
ALL the Wine in Mendoza