My last destination in Argentina was by far my favorite. Argentina is famous for Pampas beef and red wine. If you think these two things go together better than just about anything else, you must visit Mendoza.
The city of Mendoza is a 90-minute flight from Buenos Aires at the base of the Andes Mountains on the border with Chile is, in the heart of Argentinean wine country. Mendoza does not hustle like Buenos Aires, nor does it feel like the tourist economy of Iguazu Falls. Rather it remains as Argentina was. The city closes down between noon and 4p.m. for siesta. The people are friendly, and the red wine flows like water– just as plentiful and almost as cheap.
For about $125 U.S. per person, my wife and I took a private, guided tour of four wineries. Each winery included a tasting and opportunity to purchase bottles to take home.
There was absolutely no hard sell and we walked through the vineyards like royalty. Halfway through the day, we stopped off for a five-course gourmet lunch with wine pairings for every course, which was included in the price of the tour.
It was the kind of tour a person might be able to buy for hundreds of dollars in California wine country, but it would be crowded and less intimate. Our tour consisted of only myself, my wife and our guide, Javier of B&B Plaza Italia. Of course Javier, just like most of the staff of the vineyards, spoke perfect English. (My only complaint was my wife fell in love with him.)
We also met wine makers from each vineyard along the way who explained wine production, growing seasons and everything else a wine buff might want to know. We were taken everywhere we asked, to the cellars, the bottling areas; nowhere was off limits. Being a wino (not really a sommelier, just a drinker), I found all the wines on par with the great wines of California at half the price or less.
Edwin Lyngar graduated with his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in 2010. He lives in Reno with his wife and five children and blogs at www.armchairblasphemy.com.