Looking for the perfect, relaxing follow-up to a Tango filled adventure in Buenos Aires? Certainly a wine and food fueled tour of Mendoza can do the trick!
On our agenda: Original Argentinian BBQ, breathtaking landscapes from the foothills of the Andes, intimate winery (Bodega) tours, and needless to say, endless tastings of some of the best Malbec in the world. Mendoza, here we come.
- 9:00am – 1-hour flight to Mendoza from Buenos Aires with Aerolinas Argentinas. Note there is a special discounted “local” rate for holders of an Argentinian passport, and a non-citizen rate that all foreigners have to pay (we tried to get the cheaper, local rate without any luck). Arrive in Mendoza and pick up the rental car.
Quick Tip: If you want to hire a personal driver, it will cost you approximately 3,600 pesos to travel to 3 bodegas in Valley de Uco ($250 dollars). The cost to visit Lujan de Cuyo will be 2,700 pesos, and that drive is only 30 minutes. Comparatively, car rental is only about $40 USD per day. We used Expedia for same day rental.
- 11:30am – Bodega Tour and lunch at Salentein. This is perhaps one of the largest bodegas in Mendoza, owned by a family from the Netherlands. The view is stunning, situated at the foothill of the Andes lending itself to a magnificent landscape. The winery is gorgeous, with an astonishing collection of barrels, bottles and even a Grand Piano in the cellar. You’ll taste three of their wines in this 1-hour tour in the barrel room, which is preceded by a 15 minute video on the winemaking process.
Quick Tip: Bodegas in Mendoza require reservations in advance. It’s rare that you can simply go inside and ask for a tasting (the typical California / Napa experience). Everything is much more intimate here, with an hour tour leading up to the actual tasting in the winery.
- 3:30pm – Bodega tour at Domaine Bousquet in Valley de Uco. This is a relatively new winery, but the 1.5-hour tour is excellent. You’ll see the antiquated technique of cement fermentation (compared to stainless steel) and then sip 4 wines in the cellar.
- 5:oo pm – Drive back to our hotel since it’s a 2 hour drive back. Two others worth mentioning in Valle de Uco are La Azul, a family boutique winery right next to Domaine Bousquet (closed on Mondays) and Andaluna, which has a great restaurant that serves a 5-course meal paired with your preferred tier of wine.
- 9:00pm – Dinner at 1884, one of the three South American restaurants owned by celebrity Patagonian chef, Francis Mallmann. This three hour dining extravaganza is sure to please. The meat is slow cooked over a wood fire on cast iron (original Argentinian / Patagonian bbq) and is something truly special. No corkage fee, so we brought a bottle of wine we bought in the afternoon. Ask at then end of your meal if you can visit the wine cellar for a quick tour to see their impressive collection.
- 11:00am – Tasting tour at Ojo de Agua, a boutique, far less traveled winery owned by a Swiss farmer. It was a recommendation received from a few locals. The setting for your outdoor tasting is beautiful, with a view of the Andes, open pasture, and 4 glasses of Malbec balanced in perfect harmony.
- 12:30pm – Lunch at Ruca Malen. This 6 course wine / food pairing in their outside patio is excellent. You’ll lose track of time (be prepared for a 3.5-hour lunch) where the wine is plentiful and the dishes are fantastic. The presentation is impeccable and the it’s worth doing the 15-minute tour of the winery prior to lunch.
- 4:30pm – Bodega tour at Vistalba. It’s a cute winery, with a beautiful cellar that when you enter, has a wall with exposed earth to show just how deep it goes down. Located at the foothill of the Andes, the view is beautiful as well. They offer a lunch pairing as well which we’ve heard only good things about.
- 8:00pm – Be sure to check out Aristides Villanueva, the main street that runs through downtown Mendoza, lined with outdoor restaurants, bars, etc. where folks are drinking and relaxing on the many outside patios. We had dinner at a small place with outdoor heating lamps since it was winter, and had Argentinian craft beer at Hanger 52. Regardless, this main street is bustling until late into the AM.
- 11:00am – Bodega tour at Tierras Alta. This is a wonderful choice if you are looking for an intimate, more educational experience. Cesar, our guide is well known on trip advisor for his animated personality and making you feel incredibly welcome in this boutique winery! You can sample wine directly from their stainless steel tanks and barrels, all topped off with a 2005 Malbec opened in their cellar.
- 2:30pm – Spa day at Termas Spa Cacheuta. For $40 uSD, you can have a typical Argentinian buffet lunch, and access to 20 different thermal pools / hot springs, Sauna, lying chairs, situated amongst the slopes of the Andes. It’s a worthwhile, incredibly relaxing expedience after a day of drinking wine!
- 8:00pm – Dinner at Azafran. Requires reservations, but here you can walk yourself into the wine cellar and select your own bottle (no need for a wine list) and a gracious sommelier will assist you. Some of the best lamb empanadas we’ve had in Argentina can be purchased here and it’s a cozy dining experience.
Click here to view all the locations