Me encanta una copa de vino = I love a glass of wine. Coming from New Zealand, it just comes with the territory. So biking around the famous malbec wineries was numero uno on my to-do list in sunny Mendoza.
It is entirely possible to do this via an organised tour but it never crossed our minds. What’s not to love about riding a bike, saving a few dollars, meeting your daily exercise quota, soaking up generous proportions of vitamin D and meeting a bunch of cool people doing exactly the same thing? Just add a party shirt and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a very fun day!
To get to the winery area just buy a bus card from your local kiosko if you don’t already have one and make sure you’ve put on a few dollars for a return journey. Remember that multiple people can use the same card, just tap it more than once in the bus.
Catch the 811, 812 or 815 bus to Maipu. We caught it from Calle Rioja (and Pardo) and we weren’t waiting longer than five minutes. The bus ride takes around 45 minutes and it’s highly likely the driver will know where you’re headed, but if not, just ask to be dropped outside Maipu Bikes on Urquiza.
The staff at Maipu are great and speak perfect English. They’ll tell you everything you need to know and give you a map of the wineries, with a blurb about each, including pricing and tour info, then saddle you up with a sturdy, comfortable ride and send you on your merry way. Bike hire for the day is around $8.00 USD.
There are eight cellar doors, or bodegas as they say in Spanish, available for walk ins:
• Casa de Campo
• La Rural
• Entre Olivos
• Tempus Alba
• Viña El Cerno
Each offers tastings – usually two or three wines for between $2-$5 USD. Some have tours at set times and four of them offer lunch so you can pick and choose what suits you best – look at our map included here for a better idea.
For us, having done several winery tours before, we weren’t too fussed about learning the end to end process of wine making – we just wanted to sample some of the local flavours and enjoy the day. Besides, we found the knowledge of all the sommeliers more than satisfied our curiosities.
Here’s a little description of the five that we were able to visit starting at the furthest point away.
A fantastic place to start the day. Mevi is a young winery, only opening to visitors from 2011, three years after the bodega was built. We were very happy sitting on the verandah looking out over their extensive vineyards. Of course we had to order something solid to ready ourselves for the day ahead and the charcuterie board delivered the goods.
Tasting: $150* for three (varietal wines - more for reserve)
Viña El Cerno
This family run business has been around since the late 90s and all of their wines are all organic. It’s a cellar door and not a restaurant so there weren’t too many places to perch but because we were some of the first ones through we could sit with our newly made friends in a small outdoor patio and enjoy the sun.
Tasting: $180* for two
Tempus Alba was a lot grander than the first two and with the business being in the family for five generations it’s no wonder they’ve had time to create a beautifully modern cellar-come-restaurant. We ordered lunch here but were waiting more than an hour for our meals which were pretty small when they eventually arrived so we were a little underwhelmed.
Tasting: $200* for two varietal wines and a blend reserve
This one had a bit of a different vibe compared with the others where we had been out in the open. At La Rural, one of the oldest wineries, we were essentially in the cellar which was a nice reprieve from the sun. Included in the entry fee, along with the tasting, we could do a self guided tour around their mini wine museum.
Tasting/entry: $350* for two
Right at the top of the map, set amongst tranquil lawns and shady trees, this is an old style, family winery and it really shows. We were well looked after by their sommelier who really knew her stuff (and must have the patience of a saint being that this would commonly be the last stop after a big day of wine!)
Tasting: $250* for three
Whilst every winery had a different feel, they all had one thing in common: very generous pours!
We had a curfew of 5pm if we wanted to make it back in time for Maipu’s happy hour. They team up with a wine producer next door and serve free wine from 5pm to 6pm. It was the perfect end to the perfect day!
*unless stated otherwise, prices are in Argentine pesos and were valid at 31 October 2019