We spent a couple of days in Cafayate, a small town located in the very south of the Province of Salta. It’s situated at almost 1,700 meters above sea level and is considered the second center for quality wine production in Argentina. The town itself is small but very pleasant and the locals are very friendly. Actually, Argentinians overall may be the friendliest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.
As is the case with most towns/cities in Argentina, there is a plaza in the center of town. Cafayate’s main square, Plaza San Martín, is surrounded by nice, small shops and good quality restaurants. And, of course, there is a church/cathedral facing the plaza as well (unfortunately I did not take any photo of the plaza).
We decided to rent bicycles one day to visit a winery or two. There are plenty to choose from, but we decided on one that the owners of the guesthouse we stayed in recommended. They told us that the bike ride is quite tough, especially the last few kilometers on the gravel road leading up to the winery. We had had torrential rainfall the night before so the guesthouse owners called ahead of time to check whether the winery was open for visitors before we set off. The answer was: “Sí, está abierto.”
The handwritten map from the guesthouse. It was pretty accurate.
The owners were not kidding. It was a hard bike ride. And the road was not in the best of conditions. We actually had to push our bikes quite a lot. On top of that, it was a very hot day and we of course did the trip under the midday sun.
Finally we reached the winery, Domingo Molina. Carola, a friendly lady welcomed us and introduced us to the winery. We were the only visitors. Soon, it was time for wine tasting accompanied by cheese and some other snacks. We tried a number of different wines, and I really liked every single one! We must have sat there for a few hours.
The fact that we tried the different wines outside, under the big tree with this view, added to the experience.
On the way back it was all downhill, much more pleasant.
It was the first time I tried Torrontés (white) and Tannat (red). Both were excellent! I ended up buying a bottle of Torrontés, which we managed to forget in the guesthouse’s refrigerator when we left… ☹
Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina, is practically surrounded by wineries. One area just south of Mendoza is called Maipú and is literally inundated with wineries. We rented bicycles one day and set out to explore a few of the wineries. You can easily visit five or six in one day. We tried three and I felt that that was enough, and so did my liver. :-) They gave a very good tour of the facility at the first winery, but I didn’t like the wines too much. I kept on comparing the wines to the ones we had been served in Domingo Molina.
The second winery was very scenic and the wines were good. We also took the opportunity to have lunch there. The third and last winery was the best one. It was a small winery and we were the only people there at that moment. I must have tried almost 20 different wines before the day was over.
We also stopped to try some locally produced olive oil and chocolate.
The last winery of the day
And, just to be clear, I didn’t actually drink all the wine I tasted. I was pretty professional, like a sommelier. I took sips, worked my cheek muscles to circulate the wine in my mouth to get the taste, and then it was time to spit. But I have to admit that I alternated between spitting and swallowing. :-)
A long bike ride back to return our bikes
Overall it was a really cool experience. I really enjoyed it. I should have done more wine tasting when I was in Italy. I love Italian wines too.. well, next time. I also learned a LOT from the sommeliers about types of grapes, the maturity level of a wine, etc. And I got to know what kind of grapes that I like. At the moment I know very well that I like Malbec and Torrontés. And the wine’s quality from Domingo Molina was fantastic.
And all along the way we met other people as well that took different routes around the vineyards on their bikes. Everybody was smiling and we waved to each other when we passed one another. How wonderful the world we live in is.