Mendoza, Maipu and Malbec

Mendoza was great! If you know anything about me, you know that I love red wine, and Malbecs in particular. Spending time in the vineyards of Mendoza was definitely on my culinary (err…. booze-y) bucket list. The first day, I visited two wineries and an olive oil farm, which was more focused on the tours than the tastings. After a casual touring of the Maipu region (just south of Mendoza were the wineries are), I went back to the hostel and went out to dinner with 7 others. We went to an all-you-can eat buffet restaurant where we sampled Argentinian barbeque, pasta and salad. I’d probably say it was akin to a Ponderosa in terms of quality, but it was reasonably priced and convenient for 8 people.

The next day, our group somehow tacked on 4 more girls, and 12 of us hopped on the bus and headed south to Maipu. We rented bikes from Mr. Hugo and were promptly greeted with very healthy pours of wine. We eventually got on our bikes in search of a winery. However, after biking for 10 minutes, we decided we were hungry, and had lunch at a beer garden in the middle of some vineyards. It was relaxing and good. We finally visited two wineries and focused more on the tasting than the tours. The wine was good, the setting was beautiful – sitting on a second floor terrace with views of vineyards to the east and the Andes to the west. We finally ambled back to Mr. Hugo’s where copious amounts of free-flowing (and free!) wine greeted us. Below is a wine glass (duh) in the vineyards of Maipu.

I was excited, because we passed by a bodega (winery) called Traipche and I’ve had their wine in the states, so that was pretty cool to see a brand that I recognized. Below is a picture of the Traipche vineyards.

I’ve learned that the Mendoza region is home to over 1,200 wineries and the environment is great for grapes, as the soil is dry, it hardly rains and yet, fresh Andean water is pumped in to water the plants as needed. The city of Mendoza, though it is technically in the desert, has aqueducts running alongside every street. Given that every street is tree-lined, you’d never guess.

At one bodega, on our tour, they asked if we knew the difference between corks and synthetic corks. I correctly answered that there is no difference and that synthetic is even better as wine can’t get “corked” and can stay fresh longer. The conversation, however, reminded me of a funny SNL clip – Cork Soakers. Go to Hulu and type in “SNL cork soakers”. I promise you will laugh. Below is a picture of our assembled group of 12 at our final winery of the day.

The next day, I spent some time in the park watching the runners and walkers and bikers and regretted not bringing running shoes. Biking from winery to winery doesn’t quite count as exercise. But, I think hiking in Patagonia should right my gluttonous wrongs of the past few days. Then, I took an overnight bus to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, my bus did not have free wifi, as my first one did. It instead provided an opportunity to download pictures, read, and most importantly, sleep!

Ahh yes, that’s probably also worth mentioning. Meal times. Lunch is typically between 1 and 3pm. Dinner is eaten typically around 11, but you can eat as early as 9pm if you want. My last night in Mendoza, for instance, I ate dinner at 11, but it wasn’t filing enough, so at 2am, a few of us went to grab a pizza across the street. I am always one of the first to bed – and I’ve been going to bed at around 2:30am. This country is exhausting me. I don’t know how Argentinians can stay up so late, party so hard, AND maintain normal working hours; I haven’t figured out when they sleep just yet.

Next up is relaxing on the beach and surfing in Uruguay!

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