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Vineyards in the Mendoza Valley with the Andes in the Background
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Mendoza Bike and Wine   by Melissa Reichwage

Mendoza, Argentina has lovely plazas, excellent food, stunning mountains, and a sophisticated nightlife. What many travelers don't know is that Mendoza is a very affordable destination for wine tourism. 
While passing through the western Argentina provincial capital, you must visit the vineyards at Maipú and Luján de Cuyo. Wine is a major part of the city's culture, and their flourishing economy is based completely around the rapidly growing wine industry. There are both large commercial wineries and small family wineries. After you see the process of wine making and having a generous tasting, you'll appreciate why wine is such a large part of life in Mendoza.

When Spanish and Italian immigrants flooded Argentina in the late 19th century, modern grapes were introduced and today the popular grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrrah, Chardonnay, Chenin, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Mendoza Province, Uspallata, Andes Mountains and Rio Mendoza River, Argentina
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Argentina was one of the five largest wine producers in the world in the early 20th century but they exported very little since the consumption within the nation used up all that was produced. In the 1990s, Chile used strong marketing campaigns to import wine to Europe, and Argentina followed suit shortly after. The climate in the Mendoza and San Juan provinces is ideal for growing wine as the climate is warm and sunny with cool nights. Try a bottle or two at home before you visit Argentina and you will be even more excited for your Mendoza wine tour.

There are plenty of ways to visit the wineries in Mendoza: driving, walking, taking a bus, but one of the best ways to experience a wine tour is on bicycle. In Mapiú you can visit wineries that are a short five to twenty minute ride from each other. If you're just passing through Mendoza and can't allow time for a bike tour, stop at Sastre Burgos, four blocks north of the main plaza. It is only a 15 peso tour which includes a tasting of 15 wines, an excellent value.
Mendoza Province, Villavicencio, Road into Villavicencio Nature Preserve, Argentina
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Here are a few recommendations on where to tour and eat from north to south. On Montecaseros, La Rural winery has free admission that includes one wine and an interesting museum. Further down the same road, A la Antigua is a small operation that produces olive oil, liqueurs, hard liquors (including absinthe), and a variety of sweets. There is a 10 pesos charge but then you can taste pretty much whatever you want. A bit more expensive, is Trapiche winery which costs 25 pesos. You may have heard of Trapiche as they export far and wide and have a very modern facility on Nueva Mayorga. Continuing south, on Perito Moreno is another contemporary facility, Tempus Alba. Admission is set at 20 pesos, but the area is beautiful and they have a delicious lunch menu. 

Next, peddle to Familia Di Tomaso, one of the oldest bodegas in the region. The 10 peso tour includes a tasting of 6 wines and they also have a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating. The last winery on the route is Carinae where you have to try the Prestige Cruz de Piedra, which is a harmonious blend of Malbec, Cab, and Syrah aged for 15 months in French oak.

Before you go make sure to check the weather as on sunny days you will need lots of sunscreen and water. While rain and cold temperatures are less common, you will want to wear waterproof layers. If you buy any wine make sure your purchase are secure and well-padded before you put them in your backpack or bike basket.


About the Author: This guide to a Mendoza vacation in Argentina was written by a Argentina travel expert at Argentina For Less available to help you custom design your exciting Argentina tours.