Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mucho vino in Mendoza

A 20 hour bus ride (no big deal after Route 40) north of Bariloche is Mendoza with its´laid back vibe, plazas, cosmopolitain cafés, and wide, leafy avenues. There are lots of trees and fountains adorning the plazas here but Mendoza is a desert town. Irrigation ditches even run beside every main road with fresh water pumping through them.

Mendoza is also synonymous with wine. The areas sourounding the city produce some of the world´s best wines. The climate is dry so they have to irrigate but the consistent weather (warm but not too hot in the day and temperatures not approaching freezing at night) make this area otherwise ideal for growing many varieties of grapes.

We joined in the fun and took a citybus out the the town of Maipu where we rented bicycles had a day-long wine tour. We cycled about 20km in all and headed to the winery the furthest away to start the day. This winery also ended up being our favourite so next time you are out shopping for wines look for the Carinae vineyard ( They make mostly reds, but have a couple whites and a rosé too. At the Carinae winery the owners are especially passionate about astronomy and Carinae is the name of the owners favourite constellation. Each of his wines are named after a different constellation.

In total, we visited 4 different wineries, 1 olive farm, and 1 chocolate/liqueur/jam maker. At each winery we got a tour and a sampling of 2-4 different wines. We learned how to taste the wine (an exercise involving taking the wine in visually and smelling it before tasting).

Parque General San Martin became a favourite of ours in Mendoza. We walked along the lake where rowers practiced and snoozed in the shade of the rose gardens in this 420 hectare park on a couple of different occasions. One day we rented bikes in the city and rode atound the park and eventually made our way to the Cerro de la Gloria which is also in the park. We tied our bikes at the bottom and walked up for a view of the city and the valley of the Andes. The monument at the top celebrates the liberation og Argentina, Chile, and Peru from the Spaniards.

As travel at Easter is pretty crazy in Argentina we stayed put in Mendoza for a few days sipping café and eating helado along the pedestrian street, visiting the park, eating some good ol´Argentine beef and drinking delicious wine before heading across the border to Chile.

Argentine Fun Fact #7:

Besides rat-tails and mullets, also popular in Argentina is having 1 dreadlock at the back that is longer than the rest of the hair. It seems weird to us.

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