We arrived in Mendoza following an overnight bus journey with FlechaBus from Buenos Aires. The journey was really comfortable as we were lucky enough to get a new bus with seats on the front row at the top. There were numerous bus options to Mendoza but we decided to choose one we knew. A useful website we found was Omnilineas, for a full timetable and prices of buses from Buenos Aires to across Argentina.
Once in Mendoza we headed out to our pre-booked hostel, Chimbas, located a short 10 minutes walk from the bus terminal. We were pleasantly surprised with the hostel and would go as far as saying it was one of the nicest we have stayed in!
Our main reason for visiting Mendoza was for the wine tours, this was one activity I had really been looking forward to. We were also considering renting a car for a day to drive up to the pass between Argentina and Chile and take in the sites, such as the Inca bridge and surrounding Andes. However, we were already over our budget for Argentina and when we looked at the rentals we simply couldn’t afford it.
As such we decided to spend the couple of days we had left in the country absorbing the last of the sun and going on a wine tour. We spent a day walking around the city and to be honest weren’t overly impressed. It was a nice enough place with plenty of places to eat, cafes and shops, but with nothing of particular interest to us.
On our second day in Mendoza we booked a half day wine and olive tour for 100 pesos each. The reason we booked a tour instead of doing it ourself was due to the fact the wineries/vine yards are spread out across a large area and getting from one to the other on public transport is not so easy.
The tour mini-van picked us up at around 3pm and we headed over to the region of Maipu, located about 30 minutes drive from Mendoza. The tour consisted of 2 wineries and an olive products producer.
The first stop was Baudron, a medium-sized winery which both exported and sold their wines around Argentina. The tour itself was fairly interesting, if not a bit rushed, and we got to see the process on making and bottling wine on a large-scale. After the tour we got to sample 3 of their wines, 2 reds and 1 white.
The next stop was at the second winery, Cavas de Don Arturo, a small-scale family business with the vineyards in the same grounds. Despite this one seeming more promising and hoping for a more in-depth tour, our Canadian guide seemed more interested in just getting the tour over with than anything else, and when asked a question she kept saying she was new and didn’t really know. At this point I wished I had opted for the Spanish guide instead, as they not only seemed to take longer going through the same tour but I also over heard her giving a more detailed account of the vineyards. After the tour, we again got to sample their wines and this time were lucky enough to trial 4 of them with free snacks too. The owners who didn’t speak English were present for the tasting and seemed very welcoming so it’s a shame the tour was not the same.
The last stop of the tour was Pasrai, an olive oil producer who also produced olive oil skin care products and dried fruits. This was definitely the most informative of the 3 tours and it was really interesting to learn about the process of making olive oil. The tour also included a sampling of their oils on bread, their olive paste ranges and some of their raisins. It could have almost been a mini banquet if they had added a free drink!
Overall, the tours were ok. It was a shame that they felt so commercialised and at times rushed, as it could have been a very interesting and fun afternoon. The only person who was informative and energetic throughout the day was our transport guide, Dolores, who gave us loads of useful information about the industry, the growing of the grapes and the places we would be seeing.