In the vineyards and wineries of Mendoza and Cafayate, Argentina, you can see and taste the wine country on two wheels.
My time in Argentina is coming to an end, but after some excellent experiences, including a few different bike tours. I may be eating way too much good food, but at least there are plenty of chances to get some exercise.
Mendoza is Argentina’s main wine region and the wineries are spread out over a huge area, so you can’t just hop on a bike and go. For the first day, we went out on a tour with The Grapevine wine tours. Charlie and Kelly also host a very useful web site and put out a good local wine magazine if you are in the area. We went to some rather exclusive wineries and had a great lunch at Club Tapiz wine lodge.
The next day Indiana Adventures picked us up in a van loaded with bikes. We tooled around the countryside a while, taking in the snowcapped Andes scenery. Would have been better in the spring or summer, but nice nevertheless. Visited some historic wineries, tasted lots of good stuff, and even bought some at LaGarde that they are delivering to our hotel in Buenos Aires. Nothing to carry—nice!
I will admit that these tours are a bit pricey, so if you are on a backpacker’s budget, and don’t know a Torrontes from a Pinot Grigio, you’re probably better off just hopping on one of the bus tours. They’re only 30 pesos—the price of one glass of wine in a nice restaurant at home. Up in Cafayate, in the Salta region, however, you can rent a bike for 65 cents an hour and strike out on your own. All the wineries are within biking distance because it is quite a compact little town. For the most part, it’s flat as well, despite the Andes looming right next to it.
The wineries around Cafayate are much more laid back as well, in keeping with the atmosphere. You don’t have to listen to another long lecture about malolactic fermentation and destemming. You just show up, taste some different wines, and decide if you want to buy anything or not.
Once you return to Buenos Aires, you can keep the legs pumping. We went on a $25 city tour with Lan and Kramer’s bike tours. The Recoleta and Palermo one we went on was mostly on bike paths and in parks, so we didn’t have to deal with a lot of mad traffic. This way we got to see far more of the city than would be possible otherwise and I got to work off some of that great steak I’ve been eating.