A Wine Tour in Argentina

wine bottles from mendozaWhen someone says “wine” my mouth salivates. When someone says “bikes” I think exercise. But when someone says “bikes and wine” I think fun and trouble. I should have got a BUI (biking under the influence) in Mendoza, Argentina.

Mendoza, Argentina is known as the wine capital of Argentina with thousands of bodegas (wineries) nestled up against the Andes mountains. 75% of all the wine in Argentina comes from the region. Mendoza’s hot and dry climate makes it a perfect growing ground for red wines, the malbec being the most popular and recognized Argentine wine worldwide.

Most of Mendoza’s top bodegas are located on the outskirts of town within kilometers of each other. Hence, some intelligent business people have jumped on the opportunity to provide bikes for car-less tourists wishing to explore and wine taste.

There are several companies providing the bikes and wine experience – most notably, Bikes and Wines. But I decided against the obvious and most popular choice on a recommendation. I had heard great things about family owned and operated Mr. Hugo’s Bikes.

The second my two new hostel friends and I set foot on Mr. Hugo’s property we knew we made the right choice. Mr. Hugo’s was run by the bright and bubbly Mr. Hugo himself. His beautiful daughter equipped us with shiny new bikes, a map, and her best advice.

casks of wine aging in mendoza, argentinaSo on one of the hottest and driest days of the year, we pushed off for a day of tasting. By the time we reached the first bodega, Vina el Cerno, we were anxious for a glass or six. The 3 KM ride along dusty tree-lined streets from Mr. Hugo’s had worked up our wine appetite.

Our guide watched with a slight grin as the three clueless tasters in front of him swirled their wine, inspected it’s color, and stuck their noses deep in the glass. “Mmmm. That’s tasty,” I said, “Can I have another?”

We got through our 4 samplings, perhaps a bit too fast, and started debating which was the best. A 2003 cabernet sauvignon was the winner. Satisfied, we rode on.

The next stop on our list was bodega and restaurant Flia. Di Tommoso. After a short tour through their historic wine cellar, and a bit of tasting, we headed to the outdoor restaurant for lunch. As we devoured our food and perfectly matched bottle of malbec, we couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the endless sea of grapevines laid out before us. “I feel like I’m in a movie about wine,” I said.

The wine began revealing itself as we pushed shakily off for the next bodega. After another long ride through the mid-afternoon heat, we arrived at Bodega Carinae. The French owner brought us our first cold drink of the day, a chilled bottle of rosé. We downed our glasses under the shade of a nearby tree and the conversation pushed below the surface, down into the deeper topics of life and travel. “This is good wine,” I laughed.

sample glasses of Argentinian white wineWhen the last drops of rosé were sucked dry, we decided to take a break from the wine to visit the olive plantation Laur, which sits just across the street from Carinae. We rushed through the tour before stuffing ourselves with bread, sun-dried tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. It proved to be a nice pit-stop on the road to drunkenness.

It was nearing 6 o’clock, bodega closing time, before we started heading back towards Mr. Hugo’s. With the alcohol metabolizing in our livers, we noticed that the ride back was significantly more entertaining than the ride there. We even have some funny videos floating on the web.

Back at Mr. Hugo’s we were greeted by 15 other wine riders who were winding down after a day of drinking with…more drinks. Mr. Hugo kept the wine flowing (for free) and also entertained us with his happy go lucky attitude. We all shared our favorite glasses of the day as the heat started to dissipate over the valley. All perfect days end perfectly.

I won’t pretend to know a lot about wine, but I will say Mendoza wine, right from the source, will impress even the most inexperienced palate. A bike and wine tour in Mendoza is an absolute must. Just remember to drink and bike safely.

Derek Johanson believes in slow travel. He lives in places- he just doesn’t travel to them. For more information about his great trips and on slow travel, visit his website Live Uncomfortably.

  1. Reading this makes me so thirsty. I must have wine! Too bad China’s Great Wall Wine is a bit less than stellar. Taking a wine tour in Argentina and Chile is definitely on my list of “must do” things. Cheers!

  2. I’ve been on this tour. it’s great! However, I got the joy of going to chile right after, and i have to say, nothing compares to that wine tour. not even napa valley california, which have some pretty amazing wineries!

  3. Hi Matt, Sounds like fun, fun, fun all the way! Unfortunately, I am severly allergic to alcohol and will go to anaphylactic shock if I drank a glass. I can take micro-sips, though, and live. So while I am not able to enjoy wine, I am going to live vicariously through your Argentinian bike and wine tour. Hey, if you need a designated driver / biker: I’m always available!

  4. Skylab

    I can’t wait to take a wine tour in Argentina! Most of my family is from Argentina so I’ve been to Buenos Aires a few times but I never stayed long enough to go to Mendoza or other parts of the country. I have a “plan” in place to travel the entire country next year. Great article.

  5. We actually contemplated buying a vineyard when we were in Mendoza as the prices were very reasonable, and as you stated the wines are very good. Our favorites are still the Malbecs.

  6. Hey this is Derek, the guy who wrote the article. Glad you guys liked it.

    If you’re going to do bikes and wine in Mendoza, I can’t recommend Mr. Hugo’s enough.

    Insider tip: If you’re just looking to get drunk (if you’re traveling with Brits this will be the case), then order individual bottles of wine. It’ll be more wine and cheaper than paying for the tastings. But then again, you could do both.

  7. Tim

    Mendoza wine tours – Mendoza Holidays
    Mendoza is the center of Argentina’s wine industry and accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s total output. Nearly all the major wineries are concentrated in this province. Its signature grape is the Malbec. The climate and terroir in Mendoza are the ideal setting for the full expression of this grape variety. The beauty of Mendoza’s downtown is phenomenal. What is most peculiar is its network of water canals that have transformed what was an arid region into an awesome spectacle of blossoming trees that completely surround the city. More information about the Mendoza wine country can be found visiting http://www.mendozaholidays.com

  8. Forest

    This is a great incentive to make it to Argentina! I’m not a huge wine aficionado but I do enjoy a glass or two! (or four) What better way to do it than by bike!

    Great post!

  9. I totally agree. Mendoza is an awesome place for wine. I only went to 2 wineries out of the 800 odd that are there! I’m a big fan of their Malbecs!

    Check out the size of this wine barrel, with me next to it! I tried to drink it all…

  10. Tami G.

    I traveled to Argentina in 2006 and so glad that made it with a good friend all the way to Mendoza. We went to several wineries and I just loved it!!! Tours were amazing, wine was great!!! Oh , and Mendoza is just beautiful!!! Would recommend everyone to make a trip if you can. Peace!!!!!

  11. My family is from Mendoza, Argentina and when I went to Mendoza this past November the first thing I wanted to do was take a bike and wine tour. When I mentioned this to my family they laughed at me. Said it was too dangerous and that it would be better to go by car. Small town folk what are you going to do. When we went by car I saw tons of people going on bike and not only that but I keep reading articles like this and realized I should have not listen to them.

    Regardless two of the most famous wineries in Mendoza are Rutini and Trapiche. I went to both and both were amazing. I highly recommend them.

  12. Tom Nomad

    Indeed Argentinean wine is really very good. Do not know why, but it tastes much better there than Argentinean wine available in US.
    But visiting Mendoza I consciously decided to skip the wine tour. It was not an easy decision because Mendoza is the Capital of Wine and temptations are strong…:-)

    Well, I have to confess that I did already wine tour in Casablanka Valley (Chile) few years earlier. It was a great experience and since then I like to cook with wine – sometimes I even put it in the food!

    Those really ready to-die-for may chose to visit Mendoza first week of March when the city celebrates a wine festival. It is a kind of Mendoza Carnival (seen all over the streets) ending on Saturday in a lavish spectacle in a the natural scenery of the Greek amphitheatre inside the San Martin Park.

    But while these days you can always find good wine almost everywhere in the world you may not be able to drive through Uspallata Valley, gaze at Aconcagua, see the natural marvel of Puente del Inca, climb to Cristo Redentor at the border with Chile, or have the scenic drive along the Atuel Canyon….And that was my decision. Was I right? You can check these links to get your own opinions:

    http://www.amazing-world-in-free-stock-pictures-and-photos.com/mendoza-santiago-road-and-pictures.html (Mendoza-Santiago)

    http://www.amazing-world-in-free-stock-pictures-and-photos.com/free-mendoza-argentina-tours-pictures.html (Atuel Canyon)


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