Mendoza Wine Tour - Lujan de Cuyo valley
As mentioned in my previous post about Mendoza, Lindsey booked a wine tour for us in the Lujan de Cuyo valley, which was about an hour and a half drive from Mendoza. I highly recommend the company, Trout and Wine, if you go to Mendoza and want to do any tours or activities that involve wine tasting or fishing. We were picked up at our hotel promptly the morning of the tour, given a short tour of Mendoza as we drove around to pick up the other two guests, and then were on our way. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly, and answered any questions we had. A good thing to note about this wine tour is that there was a cooler full of water bottles for us all, since we arrived at the first winery a little before 10 in the morning and started sampling wine shortly thereafter!
The first winery we visited was Pulenta, the grounds and tasting room were beautiful, and we got to tour the winemaking rooms and storage rooms and learn about the process of making wine from our guide. We also saw their absolutely gorgeous private dining room where they host private dinners and tastings. It was an entirely glass walled room in the middle of the barrel/aging storage rooms but lit by a skylight from above. The family involved with the estate was/is really involved in racing and Ferraris, so scattered amongst the winery and the aging rooms were Ferrari engines, photos from races, etc. It was a very interesting combination. We enjoyed the tastings here, had time to shop at the end, then packed up and got in the car to drive to the next winery.
On the way to La Azul, our guide from Trout and Wine pointed out the mountains we were driving toward and my new favorite peak in the Andes is named Tupungato (because it is fun to say). We arrived at La Azul to drink more Malbec (it was sooo good) and we got to sit outside and taste here, hosted by Teresita (who is featured in the main photo of this post). Teresita’s family owned the winery, a smaller one than Pulenta, and there was a restaurant that was cooking something really delicious smelling while we were tasting outside. This tasting experience was my favorite because we got to sit outside and take in views of the beautiful Andes mountains and bask in the warm sun and crisp, late winter weather of Argentina. If there’s anything I learned on my trips in 2018 visiting Banff, Chile, Argentina, and climbing Kilimanjaro, it’s that I need to be in the mountains. I’m tired of flat land. We drank a lot of wine here, snacked on some aperitifs, and then went in to their aging/storage warehouse to taste some wine that was still in the process of finishing. Teresita is pictured retrieving it from the barrel for us to try and to be honest, I thought it was good even though she said it had 12 more months to age. It tasted a wee bit of vinegar but it was not bad at all. After touring the barrel room and asking questions, we had time to buy wine if we wanted. Then we packed up for the final winery and lunch.
Bodega Andeluna was our final stop and we had our tasting with a delicious lunch. I liked that our guide and her trainee got to eat with us too. I appreciate how slow meals are in Chile and Argentina because people are talking to one another, enjoying company, enjoying the food, it is a lesson/reminder to myself any time I travel to bring that back with me. We tasted 4-5 wines here. I wish that I remembered more of what we ate and drank but it was seasonal and delicious. I promise to never wait this long between a trip and writing about the experience again. This place though, we sat in the dining room not far from the open doors and had a leisurely lunch with the sun and a light breeze blowing in. I really want to go back to Mendoza. After lunch we had time to buy wine again - please note, I did not, I had no space in my suitcase for anything, and then we departed for Mendoza and back to the hotel.
One thing I’d like to mention about these tours is that you’re able to travel with wine in your carry on within Argentina. I think it was 3 bottles per person but I am not exactly sure. The tour guide and the people at the wineries knew. So while our American friends were buying a lot of wine to ship and check, they were told they could bring a few more bottles in the carryons and I think that influenced their decision to buy even more! It is a nice rule! I’m sure Mendoza gets a lot of weekend business from Argentinians visiting from Buenos Aires because it isn’t a long flight and carrying on wine is AMAZING. Get with it, USA.
Photos from top to bottom: Teresita at La Azul, Lindsey and I at Pulenta’s tasting room, Me in front of a mural at La Azul, sitting outside at La Azul (that view in the distance!), Lindsey and I at Bodega Andeluna with the gorgeous Andes mountains as our backdrop.