Mendoza Wine Camp
Mendoza, Argentina is famous for it’s mountain ranges that surround the city, and just the right combination of cool and warm temperatures and soil that make the perfect recipe for growing succulent grapes, and in turn, producing delicious wine. Mendoza being the highest wine producing region in Argentina. When we arrived in Mendoza we knew we’d be in for drinking tasty local wine and enjoying the beautiful mountains, laying just east of the Andes, but what we didn’t know was just how luxurious and lavish the experience was going to turn out to be.
From traveling around South America over the past few weeks, we had heard about all the wine tours you could do through your hostels in Mendoza. These consisted of two different types of tours. Either going with a guided walking or biking tour from winery to winery, or, visiting each winery on your own, either by foot or renting a bike. The second option a little less expensive.
We were only in town for a few hours before we realized we had a bunch of connections in Mendoza from friends in Boulder. We linked up with a buddy’s friend who ran wine tours in Mendoza. We thought we’d get some advice from them on if we should do the bike tour or if they had something else they thought would be a better option. Adam and Myfanwy soon became our go-to people. Adam, former CU, and his wife, Myfanwy, originally form Argentina, were the owners of Mendoza Wine Camp. At first, we had no idea what they did, but soon there after we clicked on that Colorado level, and realized they were exactly the right people we wanted to be talking to.
They advised us their tour would blow any other tour in Mendoza out of the water. They were quick to explain to us that although it wouldn’t be $50, like the tours ran through the hostels, but that going through them would be the quintessential wine experience in Argentina. The price for a fully customized and tailored to client “wine day” through Mendoza Wine Camp was going to cost us around $200 per person.
Each one of their tours is completely customizable and tailored to each client specifically. They explained one of the two of them would be taking us around all day to four different vineyards and wineries driven by a private driver in our own private car. It doesn’t stop there; we would have a five-course meal with wine pairings at an exquisite restaurant looking over the vineyards, and essentially taste wines all day, yes please! If this wine tour were to be in Napa Valley, CA it would probably cost a few thousand dollars. We knew this was a little pricey for us but we also knew it would definitely be worth it. http://www.mendozawinecamp.comhttp://www.mendozawinecamp.comhttp://www.mendozawinecamp.com
Mendoza Wine Camp:
Two days later Myfanwy picked us up at 9am. On the way to the first tour Myfanwy taught us about the different regions around Mendoza and which wines came from which region. She also gave us a little background on Mendoza wine history and how Malbec was the most popular and most produced wine coming out of Mendoza. (Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world).
Then came our itinerary for the day. At the first winery we would be doing tastings and seeing how their wine is made. At the second winery we would actually get to make our own blended wine. At the third, we would have a five-course meal with six different wine pairings. And lastly, we would visit a family run winery and enjoy the grounds, this one a little less informative, more about the tasting since by then we would probably be a little tipsy! Just a little…
The first winery we visited was Casarena. From the aesthetic the winery was an older building built in the 1930s by a family who had lived and ran the winery. Since being restored the building itself was classically remolded while still having reminisces of the older building. It was beautiful! Looking out of the open windows from the winery you could see rows and rows of grapes, and the mountains in the backdrop. The tour took a little over an hour. We explored the winery and were given lessons on different ways to make wine. At the end they brought us up to the tasting room that had open wooden plantation shutters looking onto the vineyards and mountains. They gave us three different scents with three different glasses of red wine in front of us. We were to guess the scents, which would in turn train our brains to recognize the scents in wine. It was actually brilliant. I guessed two out of three, coffee and smoke. Although, I did miss grapefruit. I knew it was a citrus fruit but couldn’t pinpoint it exactly. The wines we tasted were all Malbecs from the winery, going from soft and light to heavier and fuller bodied Malbecs. We probably had five to six glasses of wine within that first winery. However, we did TRY to pace ourselves because we knew this was only the first out of four wineries to visit.
The next was Dante Robino, a winery that specialized in Malbec and sparking wine. After tasting some of their wines and getting a brief background on the history of the winery we went into their tasting room where we got a chance to make our own wine. She first handed us a Malbec they produced, it was my favorite wine I had ever tasted…seriously. It was soft with some body to it, but what was the game changer was the finish. I had never recognized a taste so potent in my life, it’s finish tasted exactly like coconut. It gave the whole wine a tropical note, which for me was incredible. I had never tasted a red wine that tasted tropical before.
During the wine making we were given three different wines to use in creating our own blend. A sweet wine, similar to a port, then a Cab and a Malbec. They did give us one hint; don’t use too much Malbec because it would overpower the others. This advice taken, I used 10% Bonarda, 40% Malbec, 50% Cab. After we blended the different varietals, our guide judged the wines, I won! She then brought out a larger measuring tube and I got to blend, bottle, then label my wine and take it home. This type of hands on wine making experience was something I truly appreciated. It was so much fun and so interesting seeing how different flavors work and don’t work well together. I labeled my wine “THE blend.” The next stop was lunch on the vineyard.
We arrived at Bodega Ruca Malen around 1pm and couldn’t be more excited to eat. Steak, steak, and steak. I swear I almost got shingles in Argentina I ate so much steak, but anyway… The winery was a beautiful brand new building. We joked after being in hostels for weeks we could’ve slept in the bathrooms at this place they were so nice. The meal was exquisite. For every course the chef wrote out his ideas, ingredients and execution. These sheets were printed out and slipped under a glass place mat before every meal so we knew exactly what we were eating and why the wine paired well specifically with each course. I found this so inventive.
From a small green quinoa salad, to a smoked trout and beet almond purée appetizer, the meal was off to a great start. The highlight of the five-course meal was their perfectly cooked steak paired with two different style Malbecs. Finishing with an over the top dessert that consisted of fruit sorbets, rice pudding, and the best coffee you’ve ever had in your life.
After lunch we headed to the last winery of the day, Obra Prima. This was a smaller, family owned winery where we got a very personal experience with one of the guys who ran the place.
It was great to see a very small winery where everyone who worked there took part in all of the winery duties. From making, to packaging and labeling, they all worked together in this petite but fairly large producing winery.
The experience with Mendoza Wine Camp overall was informative, enjoyable, and luxurious! I would recommend this wine touring company to anyone visiting Mendoza. The whole day was planned out so thoroughly with perfect execution from Myfanwy. Adam and Myfanwy went above and beyond as a wine touring company. They exceeded all expectations, even planning a spa day for us the following day. Their main goal was making sure we were happy and completely taken care of, bringing the meaning of hospitality to another level. It may have been all the wine but the wine tour was my favorite day of our entire trip to South America.