Finally we arrived in wine and steak heaven!
After a pretty long and annoying border control we finally arrived by bus from Santiago in Mendoza. We had problems finding our hostel so we stayed in a last minute accommodation; in order to relieve our stress we had our first steak and two bottles of wines at around midnight – the average dining time for Argentinians.
The next day we checked into our original hostel and set off to explore the city. We had to quickly realize that due to the heat (up to 45•) it is advisable to follow the locals’ example and have siesta until the evening. As of 8pm life awakes again and it’s time to get some more wine and steaks after walking through the city.
We took advantage of the local tourist hop on hop off bus to see more of the city during a day. We visited the huge park of San Martín as well as the Enoteca where the first wine school of Argentina used to be based.
In order to explore the wine region we rented a car as it is a) cheaper and b) more flexible than an organized wine tour.
We visited on our first day the Valle del Uco with some of the biggest and luxurious wineries. Norton – a Swarovski owned vineyard – offered a thorough and detailed tour as well as wine tastings of their different ranges. For the afternoon we went down South to La Consulta and visited the luxurious O’Fournier winery, owned by the ex-director of the Spanish Santander bank. We enjoyed a 7 course gourmet lunch in their restaurant before visiting the ultra modern, spaceship like, gravity winery. We tasted and bought some wines that are apparently only available at the winery. For the night we stayed at an amazing boutique hotel, Finca La Puebla, set in the middle of the vineyards it features a few fancy suites as well as a gorgeous swimming pool.
On our second wine&food day we first visited the wine emporium of Salentein, which was designed by the same couple that also designed O’Fournier. The estate consists of three bodegas, a restaurant, a chapel and an art gallery. The visit takes you through vineyard and top notch cellar – tastings are set in 3 different settings.
After that we went for lunch to the La Azul boutique winery; the last Argentinian owned bodega in the region. The delicious 5 course menu and wine pairing were a delight. In the afternoon we visited the Domaine Bosquet, a French founded/owned organic winery. We loved their wines and bought a few bottles. Later we headed to the colonia suiza near Mendoza where we were welcomed with a “Gruetzi”. In the 1990s a handful of Swiss families left Europe to establish there new life here out in the campo. Our friend Simone has been living there for about 6 years with her husband that grew up in the colony. It was great to see old friends again.
The next day we headed back to Santiago by bus, having to endure another nerve wrecking and long border control.
- Hostel Winehouse, cheap and small, run by friendly Javier. About 15min walk from the center.
- Restaurant Estancia Floriana; meat and wine the Mendocino way
- Restaurant Zafron; high quality food, service and wines. Unique wine cellar with table setting.
- Restaurant/bar Terracita; secret rooftop bar, only accessible with password-see Facebook page
- Bodegas O’Fournier and La Azul for lunch