Bikes and Wine

June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Argentina is world famous for wine, and if you visit the country’s biggest wine region in Mendoza a wine-tasting tour is a must-do. You have three options: 1) pay $150 for a fully guided tour via private car spanning several top wineries; 2) for $50 forego the guide and instead winery-hop in a hired taxi for the day; 3) rent a bicycle from Mr. Hugo for $10 and pedal between wineries. We of course recommend the bicycle option.


Here’s how it works:

If you have any hesitation about bike-riding on a trafficked road alongside large trucks, Mr. Hugo alleviates your fears with several glasses of free wine before you get on the bike. Then you ride off with Hr. Hugo’s hand-out map indicating all the nearby wineries, strategically placed so that as soon as your blood-alcohol level begins dropping you’re sure to arrive at the next winery. Hours later when you return to the bike shop, you may be feeling a little dehydrated from riding and drinking all day under the hot Mendoza sun. So Mr. Hugo does his best to make you feel better by pouring several more glasses of free wine. Most of the riders hang out for another hour drinking more free wine until finally Mr. Hugo helps everyone onto the public bus to be carted back to their hostels.

The grape vines seem taller here than in the US

As for the wineries themselves… well, it’s a little tough to remember everything but our stops included:

  • The wine museum, which featured wine-making tools and machines from hundreds of years ago.  Our favorite was the big cow-hide bladder where people stomped on grapes.
  • A 150-year old family winery with underground tunnels and multi-story brick vats. At the end of the tasting, Joe made a bet with an Australian dude that resulted in them both drinking the leftover wine in the spitting jar.
  • A tiny 2,000 bottle operation where the tour lasted only 2 minutes because there was nothing else to see. We bought some home-made raisins there.
  • In contrast, we also visited a modern, state-of-the-art winery that looked more like something you’d see in Napa Valley.
  • Our favorite place was a shop that made no wine, but instead cooked up various concoctions such as habanero chocolate, flower liquors, and pickled eggplant spread.

Old cow-hide bladder for grape stomping

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