Escapes

Q:

What's the Best Way to Bike Through Argentina's Wine Region?

A bike wheeling to each of Argentina's Bodegas is fuel-free, but you will need to fill up your empty wine carafe—many times.     Photo: Fabio Ingrosso /Flickr

A:To best appreciate the fruit of the vine, you have to go to the source. And if the source happens to be the eastern foothills of the Andes in Mendoza, Argentina, all the better. This high-altitude terroir produces rich flavors, but the environs are also ripe for exploration by bike, whether pedaling down tree-lined roads or mountain paths. 

Argentina is the fifth largest wine-producing region in the world. Two-thirds of this vino comes from the Mendoza region, where Spanish monks began cultivating reds for ceremonial wines beginning in the 16th century; today the region is known for its full-bodied malbecs. Argentina has more than 1,000 wineries, so the possible combinations of winery tours here are nearly as plentiful as the grapes grown there.

For their first stop, some visitors will want to nerd out at Bodega La Rural Wine Museum, which displays artifacts used in South American winemaking. For a true tasting tour kick-off, however, start in Mendoza proper at The Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room, which serves more than 90 local, boutique wines. Striking out to the east of Mendoza, explore Maipú, a distinct wine appellation (geographic region), home to wineries such as Tempus Alba and Antigua Bodega Giol. South of the city, visit Luján de Cuyo to take in scenic views and sip the fruit of the fields at Bodega Chandon and Bodega Piattelli.

In the nearby Uco Valley, also south of Mendoza, vines creep from the valley floor into the foothills of the Andes. It’s home to The Vines of Mendoza’s Tasting Room and Winery, a fitting first stop on a regional bike tour, and accommodations at The Vines Resort & Spa. Top wineries in the valley include Bodegas Salentein, Bodega La Azul, and Bodega Atamisque.

Casual riders can rent transport from Mr. Hugo; however, if you want something more technical than a cruiser bike—and really, who wouldn’t?—you’ll likely need to box and check your own two wheels. The Vines of Mendoza also has mountain bikes available for guest use. Travelers in the market for outfitted trips should check out Santiago AdventuresAmpora Wine Tours, and Discover the Andes.

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