20 Mar Mendoza and Maipu Valley: Riding out the Winter
With spring quickly approaching, it’s difficult to contain the excitement that warm weather brings. Even the staunchest snow-lovers have to admit that shedding those extra layers and letting the skin breathe feels great.
No longer relegated to the library, students head outdoors to study in the sun, or ditch the books for an hour (give or take the afternoon) of stress relief. Instead of slogging through the slush to class, walking becomes a pleasant respite from the hours spent sitting. That insane speed luge of ice and peril resumes being a short bike-ride to class.
While we’ve been freezing and forced to walk between classes, the Argentinians have been chuckling atop their ten-speeds (or fixed-gears, if they’re as hipster as some Americans). Our winter was their summer, and they’ll still get to enjoy the benefits of a bike during their cold season (hint: even cities further south, like Buenos Aires, remain safe enough to cycle because it rarely snows, though it’s chilly). And if you’re headed further north, say, to the Mendoza area of Argentina, the “cold season” makes the weather even nicer, since the oppressive heat and humidity subside, leaving sun and a comfortable breeze. These can be appreciated more atop a bicycle. And even more so with a few glasses of Malbec.
It seems an unlikely marriage, but bicycle and winery adventures have been a staple in the Mendoza wine region for years. The villages, valleys, and vineyards are so closely arranged that the necessity of a motor vehicle to travel betwixt them doesn’t exist (and would be highly irresponsible, considering the legal limit is even lower in Argentina). Plus, the windswept look pairs nicely with reds. Particularly a Malbec, which you can taste straight from the casks in Mendonza, no import necessary.
There are scores of wineries to explore in the Mendoza area, but to get the most out of your day and your bicycle, head to Maipu Valley. While Maipu Valley may not boast the allegedly “superior” wines produced in the nearby Uco Valley, you’ll still find that a nice bottle of wine could still put you back a few dollars. Luckily, the wineries you’ll hit offer wine by the glass. That way, you’ll be able to try a few different vintages, or perhaps an Argentinian Merlot or Tempranillo, as opposed to purchasing a wine whose reputation you’ll enjoy more than the taste.
In Maipu Valley, Bikes and Wines is an excellent local establishment that offers both independent and guided tours, although the former allows you more freedom to explore. You’ll be provided with the necessary protective gear and a small map of the area, so the rest of the day is at the mercy of your whims. We recommend a stop at Tempus Alba. After a tour of the vineyards, you’ll get to enjoy their rooftop patio for a glass or two, or even a tasting flight, if you’d like some variety. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy similar experiences at the neighboring wineries, although each has its own charm, and specialty blend to pair nicely with the experience.
Of course, all the sun, wine, and riding can be tiring. But look on the bright side: an afternoon outdoors, roaming fields of grapes on a bicycle, with a subtle shimmer to everything you see. Whether that shimmer results from wine or from heat is arbitrary; it’s appreciated either way.