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April 18th 2013
Published: April 19th 2013
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Mendoza to Luyan to Potrerillos

What do you want?What do you want?What do you want?

I sell chocolato, cerveza, vino, cigarillos...
As mentioned in the last post, we were intending on Saturday night on finding the free wine tasting that the Mendoza council had put on . However, we did not find it. Thinking back on it now, i think i know where we saw it, but it did not look right... Anyways, instead we ventured up to the bar area of Mendoza and walked up and down looking for a place that was 1. open (as it was only 8pm!), & 2. looked like our scene (i.e. not going to turn into a bieber playing, slit your wrists joint)

And we found Antares, a fantastic micro brewery that created a range of beers from Kolsh, through scotch ales, to porters and stouts. For those sydneyites, the kolsh was very similar to Four Pines, and the dark beers creamy and strong. We managed to just make the end of happy hour for our first drink, but they charged the rest of our drinks at happy hour prices, so 5 pints of great beer for $15US. I was well chuffed.

We stumbled out starving and searching for something. As much as i hate to admit we ventured into an Irish bar that was well recommended on Trip Advisor and had a triple layer burger each (yes three layers of meat, bacon and cheese). It was perfect beer food and we left very content.

Next day, feeling guilty over our indulgences we decided to walk up to San Martin Park, the largest park in South America, which has a smallish mountain/hill that provides views over the city and the Andes. It was a decent walk to get there, about 10km's from our hostel, and much of it on the side of the road with the sun beating us up. Although it is mid April, it is still in the high 20's (c), and clouds do not exist here. We walked past a quite depressing looking zoo, and climbed up a fairly steep path to the summit. As it was Sunday afternoon, there was loads of families eating ice cream (it is really popular here), most of whom had driven up. There was also many condor's circling above and every now and then resting on one of the light towers. They are not as big as the ones that we saw in Patagonia, but still very large and impressive and very opportunistic. The views from the summit are ok, but there is a lot of haze, or smog, and the views over the city and back towards the Andes are somewhat unfortunately spolied. For the walk down to the city, we find a path that takes us through more of the park and it is impressive. It is huge, and i think every Mendozian family is there doing something, be it: playing football, roller blading, cycling, eating ice cream or drinking mate.

The next day, Monday, we have arranged to do a wine tour at Toneles, near our hostel, and one of the oldest, and few remaining wineries that are in the actual city of Mendoza. The rest being around 20-30 km out of town in Luyan de Cuyo and Maipu. The tour is late in the afternoon, so we bum and do sfa during the day. The wine tour is suprisingly good and brilliant value at $9 U.S each. As it is the end of the picking season, the wineries are in the early stages of processing the wine, and we get a really in depth tour of how it is all done (and it is just the two of
Danger  - ExplosiveDanger  - ExplosiveDanger - Explosive

How some of the locals made their way up to the lookout...
us). At the end of the tour we get to taste 3 wines and fed a small picada of meats, cheeses, olives and bread. The wines are tasty, including a delightful chardonay; which usually makes me cringe. The best we tried was a reserve Malbec and a Moscadelle desert wine. We purchase a bottle of both, as well as some olive oil and balsamic, and the tour and wine et al has cost us $40US.

For the Tuesday we have booked in to do a tour and tasting at Vistalba, a vineyard that we are familiar thanks to my sister and her fiance spoiling us with their wines over the last few years. We had looked into doing a tour to that winery and a few other well recommended ones, but the price was way too much. So we decided to settle on Vistalba and make our own way there, a 30min public bus ride and an hour walk. We got onto the bus ok, but being unfamiliar with the stop we had to get off at, we missed it. The next stop was 46km away in Porterillios! Half laughing, half nervous we watched as soon the vineyards turned to oil refineries and the road disappeared into the lower Andes. It was now that we could understand why there was so much smog in Mendoza, with the oil refineries pumping out plumes of gunk into the sky. It is sad to think that so close to some great wineries that there is crap being sucked out of the ground and burnt, spoiling the beautiful environment. But Mendoza's two industries are wine and petroleum, and people need to make a living...

Soon though, we were through the oil refineries, and traversing mountains that were blood red in the right light and covered in small shrubs and cacti. The scenery was amazing and the sky cleared giving us great views to the high mountains that create the border with Chile. Still we were a bit shitscared, as it was mid afternoon and unsure of how we would get back into Mendoza. You can only laugh, and that is what we did. We arrived in Porterillios after an hour or so, and it was siesta time, so sfa was open. With our broken spanglish we determined that the next bus into town was now, or in 2.5hrs. So we decided to stay and see the place, as this is the area where a lot of the adventure tours such as rafting leave from. Suprisingly, there was a free wifi network available in the town and we were able to contact the hostel to cancel our wine tour and book it in for the next day. It amazes me that after travelling through some of south east asia and south america that the wifi craps all over anything we have in downunder.... its ridiculous.

The lake and the surrounding mountains were spectacular, and as the sun set over the west the colours became more prominent, with deep reds and oranges. On the other side we had views to 5000+ metre mountains, it was very pretty and no one was around. We got a bus back to Mendoza, and felt somewhat invigorated and relieved after our first screw up on our trip.

The next day we managed to do the winery tour and tasting at Vistabla, it was still a 30 min ride on public bus and then an hours walk under the baking sun, but well worth it. We got to taste, and purchase some amazing wines, and tour a nice winery during the harvesting season. We got to see the process of sorting and storing the grapes for fermentation, as well as a very impressive climate controlled cellar. We did the premium tasting (as we had saved money buy getting the bus), sampling a reserve sparkling pinot noir/chardonay that was very good, a reserve 2008 Semillon that was sweet but also good, the Cortez A a Malbec blended with Cab Sav, and the2009 Reserve Tomarro Malbec that is spectacularly good straight Malbec. As we had drunk a fair amount of Malbec recently, we bought a bottle of the Semillon.

After catching another public bus that weaved its way through a different route via the suburbs back into the centre of Mendoza, we made our way back to Antares in time for happy hour and some more Kolsh.

Tomorrow it is a tour up into the high mountains, some 4000+ metres...

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Porterillios  DamPorterillios  Dam
Porterillios Dam

it supplies the majority of water to Mendoza and the wineries, as it does not rain here
Vistalba's impressive CellarVistalba's impressive Cellar
Vistalba's impressive Cellar

we were not allowed in...
Vistalba Tasting Room 5 metres belowVistalba Tasting Room 5 metres below
Vistalba Tasting Room 5 metres below

The dirt wall shows why the grapes grow well here due to the drainage

28th May 2013

Bit behind the 8-ball....
Only just getting up to date on your travels since mid-April...great to see you made it to Vistalba - it looks beautiful in the photos. Rob is outraged you had an issue with going to an Irish pub!

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