A bike and a bottle of wine is not something we would recommend combining. But Selena Black, Flight Centre travel expert from our Devonport Auckland store has returned from cycling the wineries of magnificent Mendoza, Argentina and lives to share her "Bikes 'n Wine" tour experience with us.
The journey begins with a sophisticated arrival into Mendoza, Argentina. The extra NZD$30 each to upgrade to First Class on the 22 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires was worth every penny. While others sat crammed in the lower hold, we lounged in cushy recliners being served wine (albeit in a plastic cup), and a two course meal. Our upper window provided perfect viewing of the impressive fork lightening cracking across the flat plains. Well rested, we stepped off the bus and headed straight for Mendoza Hostel International with one thing in mind. Wine!
Numerous sources had confirmed that Mendoza was Argentina’s red wine capital. Spread across flat countryside with a view of the Andes in the distance, were a collection of vineyards, olive groves and the occasional liqueur parlour. All which were to be reached by bicycle. With every Mendozian man and his dog wanting to capitalise on the regions draw card, it was after research we eventually decided on a small company called ‘Bikes n Wine” - the offers of a hose off cool down on our return sealed the deal.
Grabbing four basket bikes, which looked like they’d been pulled straight off the set of The Sound of Music, we wobbled a few kilometres to the first vineyard. One of my travelling companions had never ridden a bike before, adding to the hilarity of the situation. Expecting a wide, safe riding area along the roadside, unfortunately we were much mistaken. The road was just wide enough for one lane, leaving little room between us and the constant flow of cars, buses and trucks that sped passed. Many didn’t feel the need to slow down, instead deciding to ‘HOOOOOOOONK’ right before delivering a huge rush of air, hence the wobbling. And this was BEFORE we had even had a drop of wine!
Each winery we visited was surprisingly different. They ranged from vast caverns, with high ceilings filled with barrels three metres high, to small family owned wineries which made ‘boutique’ bottles only distributed in Argentina. At each we were taught to use our senses to appreciate the wine like a true connoisseur, and everything tasted so much better after the miles of biking to get to it!
We meandered back to drop off our bikes through a tunnel of trees shifting in the afternoon sun. Olive trees lined the road to the right and vines tangled over each other to the left, while snow-capped mountains loomed in the background. Our final stop was a wee wooden shop covered from floor to ceiling with flavoured liqueurs and chocolates. We all pulled out our wallets at this stage, swapping a few Pesos for caramel, strawberry, and mint flavoured delicacies.
Mendoza is definitely the kind of place you'll want to take your time. Don't make the mistake of only allowing one day!
Looking for more information on South America Holidays or cheap flights to Buenos Aires, South America? Contact Flight Centre travel expert Selena Black in our Flight Centre Devonport or one of Flight Centre’s 135 stores nationwide. Phone 0800 38 44 38.