Member Postcards

Vine and Dine: A Family Trip to Mendoza

An Indagare member recently traveled to Mendoza, Argentina’s wine region. Here, she shares some of her tips on touring, dining, and hiking around the stunning vineyard country.Cavas Wine Lodge

is simply spectacular. As we arrived, people came out to greet us on the steps with glasses of wine (and a wonderful strawberry drink for our son). As our luggage was brought to our house, we were ushered onto the main patio overlooking the vineyards, and had an amazing lunch. Cecilia, the owner, made a point to come and welcome us, and we had a fantastic conversation with her ranging from how she started Cavas, where she is from, Argentine and American politics and history, and of course hearing about some new puppies! Cecilia is so warm and funny and smart. No wonder Cavas is such a special place. We loved her!

As you know, guests stay in houses in the midst of the vineyards, and our house was beautiful in a very natural way. Like all of the houses, it had a private patio and private pool and wonderful roof deck. We enjoyed everything about Cavas. The food was so great, we only ate there.

On Saturday, we visited Achaval Ferrer. Our guide gave us and several other people a history of the vineyard and the process of winemaking out on a wonderful porch overlooking their vineyards. He then took us on a tour of the immaculate winery. Because it was the harvest, there was a lot to see. We ended the tour with a tasting of quite a few wines and their wonderful olive oil.

The next day, Sunday, we met Carlos, our mountain guide for Aconcagua, who apparently teaches mountaineering at a local university and has climbed some of the greatest summits in the world. We were in very good hands for a simple little hike, although it was at about 10,000 feet. Luckily none of us have problems with altitude sickness. The park around Aconcagua is gorgeous, and our hike was stunning. Even the two-and-a-half to three-hour drive through the mountains to get there was unbelievable, with the changing light and colors. Our driver, Pablo, was also very funny. Carlos brought a fabulous lunch of chicken Milanese and beef Milanese sandwiches, fresh tomatoes, juice, fruit and an entire watermelon (!) that he carried in his backpack, which we really enjoyed on a beautiful table cloth of painted flowers and crocheted edging. It turns out that Carlos’s wife—a gorgeous woman who is also a mother, pediatrician and noted mountain climber for her many and very quick climbs up to the top of Aconcagua—is also a fabulous cook and made the sandwiches. The whole experience was delightful. We also met a very nice young couple from Mexico City and Córdoba and hiked out with them.

Monday, we visited two more wineries. One was Bodega El Lagar de Carmelo Patti (San Martín 2614, Luján de Cuyo; 54-261-498-1379), a very, very small boutique winery which apparently has a cult following and is hailed as a making very good wines. We were told that we would have a private tour with the winery owner and be able to ask him questions, but unfortunately he was not there that day. We became part of a tour in Spanish, which we understood somewhat and which our driver also interpreted for us. We wondered about some of their methods, however, for example, aging the wine in a very hot garage-like structure. There were panels above the aging wines that were supposed to maintain the temperature, but it was very hot the day that we visited, and we were not sure how the panels could effectively maintain the temperature when the bottles were otherwise open to the air and weather. We did not stay for the wine tasting.

We asked our driver if we could drive by the Catena Zapata winery (Cobos S/N, M5509 Luján de Cuyo; 54-261-413-1124). He called his boss who, together with the folks from Cavas, was able to get us into Catena Zapata, although the tour was over when we arrived. The folks at Catena very nicely told us just to wander around and come back to the wine-tasting room where one of the young women gave us a history of the winery and we discussed some of the vineyard’s methods and productions. The winery is very interesting architecturally, as it is very modern but built with an Aztec temple in mind. It is a very large winery with a large production. The wines are excellent. It was a wonderful experience. It was also very interesting to contrast the two wineries that we visited that day.

We returned to Cavas, enjoyed some spa treatments (the special wine treatment is great: Malbec grape seed body exfoliation, wine bath and massage!). We had dinner again by candlelight on the patio at Cavas, and regretfully we left the next day to return to Buenos Aires.

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