A GUIDE TO WINERY-HOPPING IN MENDOZA, ARGENTINA

I had a great time in Mendoza, but I could have done it better. This guide will help you skip the B.S. and make the most of your day cruising along the Ruta de Vino while getting as wine-turnt (or not) as you want.

On my four-month trip through South America, I visited wineries in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. In Casablanca, Chile, they were excellent, but expensive; in Ica, Peru, the samples came in a plastic shot glass, which they just kept refilling with different types of booze… it was hilariously bad. In Mendoza, with its tall palm trees and picturesque mountain backdrop, the wineries were a perfect happy medium between classy and cheap.

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Mendoza was my first time ever visiting wineries, and I imagined myself cruising down a quiet country road on a cute vintage bike, which I would park amongst the grapevines, and someone would pour me a glass of wine and I’d learn about the importance of swishing the wine around the glass to release the flavors, then smell it to prepare my palate, and later they’d point out the oaky and floral notes, and by the end of the day, I would be a more sophisticated, albeit tipsy, lady.

But, it didn’t turn out exactly like that. First of all, there was too much traffic along the Ruta de Vino for my vision. Mendoza is a wonderful place, but it’s not perfect. The busy main road has a protected bike lane for much of it, and cars are used to looking out for bikers, so it’s safe. But, when you don’t exactly feel like you’ve ridden that vintage rental bike straight into a Tuscan RomCom scene, don’t be disappointed.

There was also no talking about oaky notes or floral notes, or any notes at all for that matter, but that expectation was probably just another dramatization from some Hollywood movie.

The last one was more my fault than anything. While traveling, I’d usually turn up to a place without a plan, and most of the time that worked out just fine. Once or twice, though, I wished I would have done a tad more research beforehand, and wine-tasting in Mendoza was one of those times.

Basically, my two days in Mendoza went like this: I arrived late on a Saturday night ready to visit some wineries the next day but… the wineries were all closed because it was Sunday. Duh. Okay, no problem. On Monday, around ten other backpackers from my hostel and I took the hour-long bus ride to Maipú Bike rental. There were already several people inside waiting to rent bikes, and with our group, the tiny office was bursting at the seams. The owner took our payment, gave us our bikes, and handed us a piece of paper with the names of a dozen or so nearby wineries. “Free bottle of wine… organic, family-run… largest exporter… requires a reservation…” he rattled quickly going down the list, trying to get us out the door to make room for more customers.

We all stood outside in the bright sun trying to remember which was which and wasting precious wine-drinking time while attempting to form a game plan. And if you’ve ever tried to get ten confused, overwhelmed semi-strangers to agree on a plan, you know it’s the WORST, hence why I wished I’d had one beforehand.

Bodega - (n.) winery

We ended up splitting into smaller groups and, after many wrong turns due to a surprising lack of signage and one failed attempt to visit Bodega Trapiche without a reservation, I, along with a British couple I’d met at my hostel, had enough time to go to two wineries — Bodega La Rural and Viña el Cerno — and an olive oil shop before going back to Maipú Bikes for the free happy hour, and I was disappointingly still sober when it was all said and done.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan out your best day ever. Organized by distance from Maipú bikes, you’ll find a description of each winery and other important info, like location and cost. I don’t really go into the wines themselves, because let’s be honest, unless you have a palate that is sophisticated AF, the wines will all start to taste the same after a while.

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Bikes

Rent a bike from Maipú Bikes. They offer a free happy hour that goes until 6 pm with unlimited homemade “wine” (okay, I’m pretty sure it’s not real wine, but it’s free and all backpackers love free things) after you return your bike.

Hours: 10 am – 6 pm

Cost: AR $200 ($7.34 USD) for all-day bike rental

Ask the front desk at your accommodation for the easiest way to get here.

Navigation

Considering how popular the whole rent-a-bike-and-go-to-a-bunch-of-different-wineries thing is, I expected there to be more signage– NOPE. The map on the back of the piece of paper provided by Maipú Bikes wasn’t cutting it either, so we wasted a lot of time stopping to check Google Maps and make sure we weren’t lost.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a million times, download Maps.me, like, now. Google Maps is fine, but Maps.me is better. Even if you’re not connected to wifi, you can look up directions to wherever you want to go, and you can use the offline GPS to make sure you’re still on track.

WHAT TO BRING
  • Food – many of the #fancy wineries have food, but if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend packing a lunch and snacks
  • Large water bottle
  • Backpack – tourists are warned not to use the baskets on the bikes, as there have been incidents where people’s belongings were snatched by pedestrians
Wineries

Bodega Domiciano

Small, family-run winery offering a standard 30-minute tour proceeded by a tasting with 3 different wines.

Distance from Maipú Bikes: North 1.2 miles / 2 km

Cost: AR $150 ($5.50 USD); tasting included

Reservation needed: No

Bodega La Rural

Bodega La Rural is part-winery, part-museum. They offer 30-minute tours at 10, noon, 2, and 4 each day. They discuss the history of wine-making in Mendoza and have displays of the equipment they used to make wine “back in the day.” It was interesting and a different from the rest of the wineries that only talk about the wine-making process.

The AR $220 price tag might seem steep at first, but this can be used as a credit to purchase a bottle of wine at the end. Considering the tour, tasting, and a bottle of wine are all included in the price, this tour is an excellent value.

Distance from Maipú Bikes: North 1 mile / 1.6 km

Cost: AR $220 ($8 USD) which can be redeemed for credit in their wine shop

Reservation needed: No

Ave Maria Purisima

Small, family-run winery with excellent reviews.

Distance from Maipú Bikes: West 1 mile / 1.6 km

Reservation needed: No

Bodega Trapiche

Trapiche is Argentina’s largest fine wine exporter. We tried to do a tour here, but we didn’t have a reservation and the tours were all full for the day. While I can’t speak from personal experience, the tour has a reputation for being more formal compared to some of the smaller wineries, in a good way! In general, I recommend visiting wineries of various sizes– otherwise the tours can start to feel a bit repetitive.

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Photo Credit

Distance from Maipú Bikes: South 1 mile / 1.6 km

Cost: AR $150 ($5.50 USD); tasting included

Reservation needed: Yes! Book online here.

Patio Cervecero

If you need a break from wine, stop here for some pizza and a beer on their outdoor patio!

Distance from Maipú Bikes: South 1.7miles / 2.8 km

Reservation needed: No

Tempus Alba

Tempus Alba is a medium-sized winery offering free self-guided tours as well as private tours. You can quickly buzz through the self-guided tour before taking a seat on their pretty outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards, where they offer a couple of different wine tasting options starting at AR $100 ($3.67 USD), as well as food.

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Photo Credit

Distance from Maipú Bikes: South 3.1 miles / 5 km

Cost: Free self-guided tour, tastings AR $100 and up

Reservation needed: Yes, for private tours only. No reservation is needed for the self-guided tour & tasting

Viña el Cerno

Recommended by the guys at Maipú Bikes, this small, family-owned and all-natural vineyard was our first stop of the day. Our tour was given by the daughter of the owners, which gave it a very intimate feel. After a short tour of the facility and explaining their process, we had the tasting and she went very in-depth about the philosophical meaning behind each of their wines. Unique and budget-friendly, I recommend stopping here.

Distance from Maipu Bikes: South 3.2 miles / 5.2 km

Cost: ARS $90, includes tasting of 3 wines

Reservation needed: No

Finca Mevi

Finca Mevi has a reputation for giving little to no explanation about their wines, but this upscale bodega’s incredible mountain views make it a pleasant place to chill and relax.

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Photo Credit

Distance from Maipú Bikes: South 3.6 miles / 5.9km

Reservation needed: No

READ MORE

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Recap: Argentina

One Reply to “A GUIDE TO WINERY-HOPPING IN MENDOZA, ARGENTINA”

  1. After reading this I miss Mendoza. Went some 8 years ago. Just turned 18, traveled around Argentina for a month (while still in school haha). I have no idea how my dad let me board that plane – but I had a blast!!! Keep working hard on your blog. It takes time, patience (and a lot of frustration 😅) #glt

    Like

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