» Wine Travels – Argentina

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Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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What would compel you to fly halfway around the world? A good music festival? Good adventure? Good wine? Good deals?

Glorious Argentina

Well, you can find three of the four in Mendoza, Argentina, the wine-producing region of the country. If you travel in the first part of March, the city traditionally hosts The Grape Harvest Festival and that includes a beauty contest and 20,000 people attending the main act to close the festival. Mendoza is nestled in the shadows of the Andes mountains where you can find whitewater rafting and because their seasons are opposite of the northern hemisphere, the average temperature in March is a high of 78 and a low of 58, so not bad for rafting. However, if you’re looking for something cheap and quick, this is not it. To fly from Chicago to Mendoza, at minimum, you’re looking at a cost of $1,600 per person and 16 hours of transit. Looking at other times during our winter, you could spend over $2,000 a person and thirty hours (including layovers) for a flight. Then, because you’d be visiting during peak times, you’d spend about 8,000 pesos for a room at the Park Hyatt Mendoza. (But, that only ends up being $2,000 for a stay of a little over a week, or about $250 a day, and that’s not bad at all.)

If it seems like a bit much, just think of the wine. (If it still feels a bit too rich for your blood, here are some more hotels that will cost you less so that it offsets the price of the plane tickets in your mind.) The Mendoza region produces about the same amount of wine as half the entire U.S. production. The region is known for its Malbec wines and has started to plant more Cabernet Sauvignon, but still grows the Cereza and Criolla Grande grapes for early consumption wines. (Think box and jug wines.)

The Vines Wine Bar & Vinoteca is located within the Park Hyatt and offers 100 different wines to try, from the comfort of your hotel. Only two miles away is the Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room, operated by the same group and that also offers 100 different wines, all of which are available by the glass. With all the different wines, they can probably also point you in the direction of vineyards to go and tour on your own (or check here for a couple of examples.)

However, if you feel adventurous but don’t want to think too much, you could head out and go to the Ampora Wine Tours office, only half a block from the Park Hyatt hotel. Here, you can let a tour company do all the planning for you. For $150, you can take the Wine Tour of Lujan de Cuyo and see four wineries, complete with tastings, as well as enjoy a five-course gourmet lunch.  The same price can also get you the Maipu Wine Experience, where you can see more about the history of the land and, weather permitting, enjoy an Argentine Asado lunch outdoors. (In other words – barbecue!) $165 gets you the Uco Valley Wine Experience that includes transportation, a few wineries including tastings and a gourmet lunch.

So, with the weekend spent enjoying The Grape Harvest Festival, one day enjoying tastings in town and the next three going off to enjoy pre-planned tours around the countryside, you may have had enough of wine. With only a couple of days left of your vacation, it might be time to end the vacation with a bang and do some rafting. If you don’t like the water, maybe go in the opposite direction and try paragliding. Or, choose to go in between and do a bit of mountain biking. Argentina Rafting Expediciones offers each of these activities as well as horseback riding and mountain climbing to get a little bit of adventure before you head for home. Then, after a good long week plus of a trip, you’ll have quite a few good memories to dwell on as you sit through another 16 hours to fly back home.

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