I don’t get to travel internationally as often as I would like so I try to make the most of my trips when I do get abroad. While planning my vacation to Buenos Aires, my best friend Kim and I looked at several cities for possible side excursions. Kim has been down there six and a half months and has already seen a lot of the country so we wanted a place we could experience for the first time together.
We settled on Mendoza and I fell in love with the city, despite our trip being cut short a day due to crazy weather in Buenos Aires. Nestled in the Andes Mountains, Mendoza is the perfect destination for winos and lovers of the outdoors alike. I happen to be both so I was pretty much in heaven.
Note: click the button in the bottom right corner of each slideshow to make them larger.
High Mountain Tour
We spent our first day exploring the Andes Mountains on a tour with Mendoza Holidays. We were the only two on the tour so we could pull over whenever we wanted and take our time absorbing the amazing views. Our first stop was at a lake the government created to supply the city with water since Mendoza is basically a dessert. From there, we drove to Parque Provincial. This park is the main access point to Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of the Himalayas. I’ve seen mountains before in the U.S. but they were nothing compared to the beautiful snow-capped Aconcagua.
We left Parque Provincial and ventured on to Puente del Inca. At one point there was a luxury resort in this spot with hot springs nearby but an avalanche destroyed it. The yellow color of the stone was very striking. Next, we stopped for lunch in Uspallata where I indulged in a local favorite milanesa napolitana. It’s an odd combination – breaded fried steak with ham and cheese on top – but I loved it. And because it’s Mendoza, our day ended at a winery, Bodega Bonfanti.
It was a day full of incredible views which I attempted to capture as best as I could in the slideshow.
Wine, wine, wine and more wine
Mendoza is home to more than 800 wineries spread across five regions. In a perfect world, I would have visited every single one. Instead, we went on a one-day tour of four wineries in the Lujan de Cuyo region with Ampora Wine Tours. We visited Bodega Viamonte, Pulenta Estate, Bodega Piatelli and Bodega Ruca Malen. Each winery gave the same general tour – showing off their vines, talking about what makes their winery unique, explaining the barreling process, etc. My favorite winery, however, had to be Bodega Viamonte. The owner Martin was incredibly passionate about winemaking and his enthusiasm was infectious. It also didn’t hurt that we were sampling a Bonarda straight from the tank before 10 a.m. while listening to him discuss the difficulties of translating labels in the global market.
Each tour ended with a tasting, of course. The table settings for the tastings were exquisite, as were the picturesque views of the Andes Mountains that served as our backdrop throughout the day. We tried four wines at each of the first three bodegas and six wines at the last one, where each wine was paired with a different course of a gourmet meal. After sampling a total of 18 wines, our group was getting pretty friendly and having a great time. We made friends with Ian and Amelia, from London, and ended up hanging out with them after the tour was over.
Being the wino that I am, I bought a bottle from each winery we visited. Mendoza is probably best known for producing Malbec, but my taste buds were more tempted by unique flavors I had never tried before. My final haul included a Bonarda, Torrontes, Cabernet Franc, Malbec Rosada and a regular Malbec.
To say it was the best day ever is a complete understatement!
With such a limited time in Mendoza, we didn’t get to do much else besides the two tours. We did enjoy a ridiculously delicious meal in a super cute atmosphere at Anna Bistro. And I do have to give a shout out to Hostel Mora. It was my first time staying in a hostel and I had a great experience, including learning how to make empanadas.
Our last day in Mendoza was also my last day in Argentina and I was definitely not ready to say goodbye to the country and my best friend. I enjoyed Buenos Aires because I got to see what it’s been like for Kim to live there, but Mendoza was truly the highlight of my trip. If you are in any way a wine lover, I hope you can make the trek down to experience it for yourself!