- Choose a sunny day
- Get a bike that works
- Make friends
- Drink lots of wine
- Eat empanadas
One of the most popular backpacker activities in the Mendoza region is to rent bicycles and ride around to several different wineries in Maipu. We had heard some mixed reviews about this, primarily that the bikes are crappy and there is not a bike lane so it’s a little unsafe. Both true, but luckily we had no issues and had a tremendous day basking in the sun, sipping wine on patios and even getting in a little exercise.
Stop 1: Mr. Hugo’s Bikes. Picked up our bikes for only $6 each. Mr. Hugo was very friendly and gave us a map, coupons and a kiss on the cheek and sent us on our way. Cost: $12
Stop 2: Wine Museum. Our concierge at the hotel told us to skip the tour and just walk around. The tasting is not free if you don’t do the tour so we held off since it was only 10:30 a.m. or so, but enjoyed walking through the museum. Cost: $0.
Stop 3: Tempus Alba Winery. This was our longest ride of the day, which we did on purpose. There is a short self-guided tour and a lovely tasting room on the second floor deck. We split one tasting (3 pours), and then each had a glass of our favorites. We did not eat here but supposedly the food is really good. Cost: $8
Stop 4: Carinae Winery. This is a French winery and the owner was on site pouring wine. We did one basic tasting (4 tastes) and one premium tasting (5 tastes). The reserve Malbec here was probably our favorite wine of the day. Cost: $10
Stop 5: Laur Olive Tasting. At this point we decide we need a snack so together with our new friends Mary and Glenn we biked across the street to Laur. We tried a variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars with bread, two different tapenades and whole olives. All very tasty! Cost: $4
Stop 6: Familia de Tommasso Winery. The oldest winery in the area. We each had the chance to try three wines, the basic tasting. Loved the outdoor seating area and wished we had time to linger longer. Cost: $6.
Stop 7: Trapiche Winery. Probably the biggest/most well-known winery in Mendoza. After pedaling like hell we got there about 4 p.m. and they were luckily still open though we had read they closed early. We weren’t really given the option of tasting here but instead encouraged to buy a few bottles to share on the patio. We sat down next to some very nice Australians and had great conversation over a bottle of malbec and our first and only sparkling wine, a rose. Cost: $7
Stop 8: Return bikes to Mr. Hugo’s. Again, pedaling fairly quickly here to get the bikes back by 6 p.m. End up in a big pack of red bikes all going the same way. Our only disappointment with Mr. Hugo is we had read that he serves wine to his guests when the return at the end of the day, or sometimes sends them home with an extra bottle of wine, but that was not the case for us. We were served lemonade instead, but also got to try our first matte tea.
Stop 9: La Botella Wine Bar. Not quite ready to call it a day, we walked a few blocks over to La Botella, which was open until 8p.m. and packed with people. By far the best deal of the day, we got a tasting of five pours each, a bottle of wine to take home and a dozen empanadas for only $11. We never made it to the brewery in town but heard it’s also open later and serves cheap empanadas. Cost: $11
Getting to Maipu: The easiest way is by cab, but the cheapest way is by bus. We took a cab there for 120 pesos ($8 USD). On the way home we caught the bus because we had made friends with people who spoke Spanish and knew what they were doing. You need either coins or a bus card (buy in town) to ride the bus, but it’s very cheap (less than $1) and relatively easy. Cost: $8
Total Cost: For our above itinerary our total cost for the day for two people with transportation, food and tastings was 980 pesos ($66). Compared to wine tastings we have done all over the U.S., this was a very cheap day and we loved almost all the wines we tried. The only problem was we couldn’t really buy any bottles because we’d have to carry in our backpacks for another six weeks.