After exploring Buenos Aires, it was time to fly to our next destination, Mendoza, the heart of Argentina’s wine country and the largest wine producing area in Latin America. Mendoza is commonly used as a stopover by mountain climbers on their way to Aconcagua and other adventurers looking to hike, raft, ski, and explore the Andes Mountains.
The metropolitan area of Menodoza has a population of over 1 million people and the practice of taking a siesta is common with most businesses closed between 12:30 and 5:00, mainly because of the summer heat. It’s important to plan accordingly when you want to run errands and shop.
Exploring the City of Mendoza
Mendoza is a very vibrant city with many pedestrian streets and large plazas for gathering. The main pedestrian street is Paseo Peatonal Sarmiento and has many restaurants and shopping. Most roads and pedestrian streets are tree-lined providing substantial shade to keep the city about 10 degrees cooler during its hot weather. There’s also deep irrigation ditches along the roads that are not covered so watch your step.
If you’re looking for a great place to eat, I’d highly recommend La Lucia. I have to say I had one of the best filet mignon I’ve ever had… probably helps that it was wrapped in bacon… but oh so yummy.
Wine Tasting at Achaval Ferrer
Our first wine tasting of the day took place at a small boutique winery called Achaval Ferrer located about 30 minutes outside Mendoza. We had a chance to taste many types of wine and tour the wine cellars. It was a beautiful day in the foothills of the Andes. At the end of the tour, you have the opportunity to purchase their wines and olive oil. The olive oil is quite affordable but their wines are expensive (but worth it). Some of their wines have been voted top 10 in the world by Wine Spectator.
Wine Tasting at Bodega Norton
Now that we had experienced a smaller winery, we headed for Bodega Norton, a large winery that produces millions of bottles of wine with sales throughout the world. The property and vineyards were beautiful and the wines were quite good. Having visited in mid-March, it was time for harvesting and crushing.
Making Our Own Wine Blend
One of our activities at Norton was competing to make the best wine blend. It was a brilliant idea and the whole group enjoyed the competition. The competition was to create the best blend of wines using three types of wine provided to each table. Each group had to taste each of the wines and note how each tasted and then had to determine what would be a good concoction of blending the three together.
Our wine blend ended up being 60% Malbec, 20% Petit Syrah, and 20% Cabernet Franc. We gave it a name of PeRoDu del Andes (first two letters of Peter, Robin, Dustin). We didn’t win but we thoroughly enjoyed our blend and were able to finish off the bottle later in the trip when we crossed the Andes.
One of the appealing attributes of this organized tour to South America was visiting wine country in Argentina. Wine country did not disappoint as it’s one of the nine Great Wine Capitals in the world. I just experienced the wine country of Mendoza but there is so much more to do here in terms of adventure from rafting to skiing. Mendoza has a great culinary scene and great shopping for leather goods. Just like visiting California’s wine country, there are numerous wineries for you to visit. Malbec is the prominent wine here which happens to be my favorite!