So I arrived at a hostel in Mendoza after leaving my Mendoza couchusrfers place Sunday night. A decent change of pace, actually. For 12 bucks, it's the best hostel I've been to...clean bathrooms that are bigger than a storage locker, good breakfast, normal people.
I sat down to do some emails on Sunday night and overheard a girl talking about how here teaching program was cancelled in Chile. What a coincidence. So I went over, and of course it was the exact same program I was in, only for a shorter time.
Talk changed to plans for the next day, of which I wanted to visit the wineries. I had gone to some places earlier to pick up info on prices and times. Then an Irish couple started talking to us, and all of us had the same plan for the next day. Turns out, they had done their homework more than I had, and there was a really cheap & reputable place to rent bikes outside Mendoza. .
Our group, ready to take off and tackle the wineries: an American, a Canadian, and two Irish folks
We took the bus the next morning 20 minutes outside Mendoza to the bike shop, Mr Hugo to be exact. A really nice fellow! They gave us a map showing the location of about 8 wineries, and we were off for the next 8 or 9 hours!
First, we went to an olive oil facility, where we also tried some various liquers and sweets (jam, dulce de leche, etc) that they make. Then we got to the real business of tasting some of Mendoza's famous Malbec wine. We stopped in at a winery not on the map, and all of us agreed that it was the best of the day. We tried 4 of their wines, in some order from cheapest to most expensive. The most expensive goes for $60 a bottle in NYC, but $70 pesos, or just over 15 bucks, in Mendoza! Anyways, they were all delicious and from the source. We got a vineyard tour here too.
The biking, well that was quite a scene. It was mostly country roads, set at the foot of the tallest mountains in the western hemisphere, accompanied by the occasional big rig whizzing by. No deaths or injuries were reported.
We visited 2 more wineries over the course of the day. Of course, we biked a good 10 miles or so in total.
We got back to Mr. Hugo's at around 6pm, greeted by about 30 other mobile wine tasters, and there was even a good crowd of people from the same hostel! Mr Hugo lived up to his reputation and promptly served us more wine of his own as we dismounted our bikes, and insisted on topping our glasses off every once in awhile. I think he makes alot of dough.
Fun fact of the day: Malbec breaks down to mal-bec, bad beak. Anyways, they tried to grow these grapes in france or something, and they sucked, but then they brought them to Mendoza, which has better soil, a much greater temperature difference between night and day, and a better climate, which makes the grapes produce the perfect amount of sugar for great wines. I learned something.
In other news, my flight to Easter Island got rescheduled to March 16th, so I'm hanging out in Mendoza/the vicinity until the 14th.
I'm a wine snob (Ok, actually, I know nothing):
Walking the vineyard:
Tour de Argentina:
Aging barrels, mostly American and French Oak:
The setting, a valley below the mountains: