Why I’m going back to Mendoza in 2016 and you should too



I have been to Mendoza, Argentina, in March 2015. Expedia.com heard about my trip and was curious to know why I loved it so much. So I decided to write a post about it to explain why I plan to visit again in 2016.

I love traveling, and I love writing about travel. I love exploring new countries, learning about their culture, way of life, and even their food. One of the things I enjoy the most while I travel is trying the local drinks. It could be mezcal in Oaxaca, Mexico; rum in Trinidad, Cuba, pisco in Paracas, Peru; a good ale in a fantastic pub in London, England or a glass of Malbec wine in Mendoza, Argentina. I find that trying the national drink is a good way to get into the local atmosphere, to appreciate the local culture and to complement local food.

Don’t get me wrong, though! I am not the kind of person that could be called an alcoholic. Quite the opposite indeed. I don’t drink much and most people would say I am a light weight. But I am Italian, which means that wine appreciation is pretty much written in my genes. Even more so in my case, as my mom comes from a small village in Sardinia which is quite famous for its vineyards and its delicious wines, and where most families actually make their own wine (my grandfather used to do that too).

Read more about the things to do in Sardinia.

Mendoza

Nature and countryside is what I seek the most when I travel – photo courtesy of Tulio Soria (flickr)

I also love nature. As I get older, I appreciate spending more and more time outside. The hours I once spent bar hopping and recovering from a night out, are now those I use to get out and bike or hike my way through mountain and countryside trails. I value breathing clean air. I enjoy the silence. I appreciate the crispy wind biting my skin and I feel rejuvenated as I puff and pant while I hike up a trail – till the moment I reach the top and get to stare at the view below, completely mesmerized.

Mendoza

The gorgeous vineyards around Mendoza

Discovering Mendoza

My appreciation for wine and nature drew me to Mendoza last March. I had been to Argentina before, and found it to be one of the most incredible coutries in the world. But back then, I had no time to visit the most famous wine producing region of South America. So, when I decided to travel to South America again, I made it a point to stop in Mendoza for a few days. Little did I know that I would end up falling in love with this city, to the point that I am planning a second visit for 2016 to stay even longer and explore the region further.

Mendoza

I can’t help falling in love with these views – photo courtesy of danicho (flickr)

I arrived in Mendoza from Santiago de Chile. It was a long ride, and before boarding the bus I had fully braced myself for it, preparing for interminable hours of snoozing, reading, listening to music and being plainly bored. None of that happened: at every turn, the views that opened in front of me were simply fantastic. The region is home to the Cerro Aconcagua, the tallest mountain of the Western and Southern hemisphere – well deserving the title of Roof of the Americas.

Mendoza

On the way to Mendoza, from Chile – photo courtesy of mewd (flickr)

As the bus crossed the mountain range, knowing that I wouldn’t have time to for a proper hike in Aconcagua National Park, I glued my face on the window and made the most of it. I gazed at the pretty mountain villages, envying the groups of people pic-nicking and enjoying the beautiful day. I admired the countryside, rows after rows of vines which would soon be turned into one of the delicious regional wines.

Mendoza welcomed me the minute I arrived. I knew I was in for a good time (despite a short one) when I spotted the wines on sale at the lobby of my hostel (apparently, all good hostels sell bottles of wine in Mendoza: isn’t that a treat?). Furthermore, as he walked me to my room, the receptionist asked whether I would care to join the rest of the guests for the asado that night. Memories of my previous time in Argentina kicked in immediately: all hostels organize asado nights there, and for a more than reasonable price. I had been waiting for the moment when I could taste that mouthwatering meat seasoned and grilled to perfection and accompanied by chimichurri, a tasty marinade made of parsley, garlic, oregano, a hint of chili and olive oil again since the time I had left the country a couple of years before. Staring at the bottles of wine for sale, I said yes – I would be glad to join. And I purchased a bottle of Malbec for good measure.

As it turned out, I was one of the few foreigners at the hostel. Most of the other travelers were other Argentinos who had gone to Mendoza to explore the wine region and the surrounding areas, just like I had.

In the few days I spent in Mendoza, I found the city to be truly charming: wide boulevards, lovely coffee shops, delicious restaurants and a relaxed atmosphere make Mendoza one of the must see cities of Argentina. Although the area where Mendoza sits is pretty much a desert, each square in the city is decorated with beautiful fountains. Mendoza is lively during the day but gives its best at night, when the friendly Mendocinos crowd the restaurants, bars and cafés of Avenida Arístides.

Mendoza

Chilled yet lively: this is Mendoza – photo courtesy of Photostat (flickr)

Yet, what I loved the most about the city is the fact that it was really easy for me to get out of it to get to the amazing countryside nearby. That is how I managed to put two of my favorite activities together, in the very same day. I went on a biking tour around the vineyards.

Mendoza

One of the stops along the wine bike tour around Mendoza

A short bus ride from the centre of Mendoza took me to Maipu, where I rented a bike and, map at hand, I set to explore the beautiful countryside and hopped from one bodega (vineyard) to the other. It was pure bliss. At each vineyard an eager employee guided me and other visitors around, to explain us the history of the bodega and of the family behind it: some of the vineyards are as old as 170 years and the founders had arrived all the way from Italy or France with their vines. Then, we would be given as an introduction to the best wines produced and eventually presented with what we had all been waiting for: an array of wines we could taste.

Mendoza

Barrels of wine in one of the bodegas near Mendoza

As if they aren’t perfect enough already, some bodegas also have an annexed restaurant. That meant eating on the grounds. Actually, that meant eating a delicious local meal on a gorgeous terrace with a view of the beautiful vineyards and countryside and a selection of fantastic wines to go along the meal.

Mendoza

Visiting the vineyards around Mendoza was one of the highlights of my latest trip to South America – photo courtesy of Mark Surman (flickr)

It really was as good as it could possibly get. So good that I couldn’t resist and decided there and then that I would do my best to reproduce an Argentinian meal at home, in Italy, and bought a few bottles of wine to go with it. I was so happy with it that I didn’t mind one bit the fact that I could hardly carry my backpack afterwards and almost broke my back in the effort. I wanted to make sure that friends and family at home would get at least a hint of the marvels I experienced in Mendoza.

When I opened one of those bottles a few nights ago, fireplace on and a nice (Italian) meal on the table, memories flooded back. So much so that I resolved to go back to Argentina in 2016 and head straight to Mendoza. And this time, I am staying way longer than just a few days, so that I can get more of the fantastic local vibe. Not only I want to bike across the gorgeous countryside again, taste more Malbec and eat more asado.

Read more about Argentina on my post “Great things to do in Argentina.”

This time I want to go a step further: I want to enroll in a wine tasting course and get my appreciation of wine to the next level. I want to practice my Spanish with the charming locals. I want to be there for the vendimia, the harvest season, when the region is at its best and the city organizes a number of festivals, celebrations and concerts. And as I will be spending a longer time there, I won’t be able to find an excuse not to join a hiking expedition to the Cerro Aconcagua, where I will take on the challenge and test my limits.

With all that it has to offer to its visitors, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mendoza becomes one of the hit destinations in 2016 and the years to come. I can’t wait to go back – and you should plan to visit too!


 


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59 Comments

  • CABRIO
    17 December 2015 at 19:24

    What a Marvelous Mouth-watering Malbec & Mendoza tale! Thank you!

  • Marta
    17 December 2015 at 19:44

    I’m totally with you when it comes to drinking wine: ‘poco ma buono’ and accompanied by a great meal is the way to go! I think the idea of a wine tasting course is great: in a landscape like Mendoza, in Spanish, it can be a really cool way to connect with the place. so tell me: how does it compare with Sardinian wine? Be honest 😉

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      19 December 2015 at 9:35

      Hahaha! Well Malbec is not even remotely close in taste to Cannonau. I like them both, for different reasons.

  • Madi@Restless Worker
    18 December 2015 at 2:40

    Wine wine wine. Wine from south America is some of my favourite! Would travel down there just for that 🙂

  • Anita Hendrieka
    18 December 2015 at 4:11

    I live just down the road from all the winery’s in Martinborough in NZ so I LOVE WINE! Great post 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      19 December 2015 at 9:37

      Never tried a wine from NZ. I suppose it is time I do 🙂

  • Sarah
    18 December 2015 at 6:04

    Awesome! I’ve only been to Buenos Aires, but Mendoza is definitely on my list! Nice pix too! Thanks for sharing, I can definitely see why you would go back! I’ve been to Sonoma/Napa and I am always wanting to go back!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      19 December 2015 at 9:38

      Buenos Aires is great, I truly love it. But it can get a bit overwhelming at times. Mendoza just has that perfect vibe. Big enough to have plenty of things to do, small enough to feel cozy. I can’t wait to go back!

  • Marge Gavan
    18 December 2015 at 6:39

    Seems like you have a good plan. You just reminded of my wish to leave my country, go some place and maybe stay there for months, learn the language, and really get to know how the locals live.

    Hope I could get to Mendoza someday too.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      19 December 2015 at 9:39

      Time you do that! All you need to do is pack your bags 🙂

  • Kacy
    18 December 2015 at 21:00

    I love Mendoza! Like you, as soon as I visited I knew I had to go back. My time there was far too short, shortened more by flight drama but it was such a gorgeous and special place with delicious wine and food. When I return I want to visit more bodegas and go spend some time in the Andes, hiking. Enjoy your return trip!

  • Stefan
    19 December 2015 at 13:33

    LOVE Mendoza. Went there a decade ago and gonna go again in 2016 with my other half. Not to mention the wine culture, it’s also a lovely place to walk around in. Have wonderful memories there – and the steak/food… MMMMMMM 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      20 December 2015 at 22:57

      I mean, you can’t mention the cute locals. But I do 😉

  • Lauren
    19 December 2015 at 16:45

    Not having been to South America and therefore Argentina, thank you for highlighting and sharing this amazing spot. I am from South Australia, which is famous for many wine regions including the Barossa Valley. Therefore I too appreciate wine and would love to now visit Mendoza to experience South American wine :-).

  • Carol Colborn
    19 December 2015 at 18:17

    Malbec and Argentina, I didn’t know they were related! So Mendoza is the Napa Valley of Argentina. I should tell my husband who is a wine-lover. That may well be our next destination, hopping from one bodega to the next!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      20 December 2015 at 22:58

      You should definitely get your husband to travel there with you!

  • Hugo
    20 December 2015 at 17:30

    I’m not a wine guy, but do love those views in Mendoza. What a gorgeous landscape!

    I actually like returning to places that captivated me during past visits. It’s a great way to explore even further as you plan on doing in Mendoza.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      20 December 2015 at 22:58

      I am never done exploring. I keep going back to places I love!

  • Daphne
    20 December 2015 at 18:06

    I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to do an international wine tour. This post (and your amazing pictures) really makes me want to give it a try!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      20 December 2015 at 22:59

      I should really do a round the world wine tour, hehe

  • Alison
    20 December 2015 at 18:40

    Stunning pictures! I’m going to have to add this to my travel bucket list!

  • Travelwith2ofus
    20 December 2015 at 20:09

    Argentina is indeed a beautiful country, Mendoza seems adorable, but what makes this a trip worth taking for me is the wine and the amazing asado. I can definitely understand why you are going back in 2016 and staying longer.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      20 December 2015 at 22:59

      I thought Buenos Aires was amazing, but a bit too big. Mendoza is just perfect!!

  • Nic from Roaming Renegades
    21 December 2015 at 0:45

    I am ashamed to say I have never heard of Mendoza before but I also love adventures out in nature and it just looks like a wonderful place to explore.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      21 December 2015 at 10:12

      Well now that you know, you should plan to go 🙂

  • Geert
    21 December 2015 at 0:46

    I have never been to Argentina, would love to go there one day, but I wouldn’t have thought about going there for the wine. I’m more of a beer drinker myself, how can I not? I’m from Belgium! So you’re always welcome to come to Belgium and go for a beer 😉

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      21 December 2015 at 10:13

      In general terms I prefer wine. BUT, one of the first things I do whenever I get to a new country is trying the local beer. I think there’s too many local beers in Belgium. I would have to spend my first week just drinking lol

  • Lexi
    21 December 2015 at 2:23

    Argentina was high up on my list when we were in South America but we ran out of money before making it down there 🙁

  • Vicky and Buddy
    21 December 2015 at 4:21

    Mendoza seems lovely! I spent time in Buenos Aires and went to a wine expo and ate a lot of asado! But I didn’t find the people to be too friendly. It seems Mendoza is a bit warmer 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      21 December 2015 at 10:11

      I think being Italian in Argentina always helps. But yeah, people in Mendoza are way more chilled

  • Trisha Velarmino
    21 December 2015 at 5:24

    I took a Wine Master course in Mendoza and I am so happy you’re going back!!! Does this include backpacking the whole South America, as well? Miss you, Clau!!! Xx

  • Christa
    21 December 2015 at 6:32

    I’m not much of a wine drinker, preferring to stick to sweeter wines like moscato and ice wine, but those views just cannot be beat. Sounds like Mendoza could be a wine lover’s annual vacation trip!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      21 December 2015 at 10:09

      I don’t even know what ice wine is 🙂 I think you should go anyways!

  • Elaine J. Masters
    21 December 2015 at 6:55

    Looks like you’ve found your niche and your mission. Between getting outdoors and a passion for wine it seems like a wonderful combination. I hope that your return trip is as satisfying as you hope.

  • Joe Ankenbauer
    21 December 2015 at 7:46

    I can see why you want to go back! Not only is it amazingly beautiful, but all the wine to be had too!

  • Julius from Traveltipy
    21 December 2015 at 10:21

    Very nice place, You are right! I should go to Mendoza! I am sure I would like it there.

  • Mark Williams
    21 December 2015 at 10:50

    Wine, food and good company. That is pretty much one of the main reasons we all travel. Throw in a little South America and you have struck gold.

  • Milosz Zak
    22 December 2015 at 0:49

    Claudia! What an amazing wine cellar. I immediately thought of the Yerebetan cistern in Istanbul when I saw those endless arches. I have to say this is the kind of sight that stays with you forever. Keep on traveling!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      22 December 2015 at 8:35

      There is something special about wine cellars. Such a pity that a post can’t deliver the scent!!

  • christine
    22 December 2015 at 5:57

    I haven’t been to Argentina yet but I hear great things about it. Mendoza looks stunning! I would revisit it too!

  • Divina CA
    22 December 2015 at 13:31

    Wow! I love wine 🙂 great info bout wine!

  • Karyn Jane
    23 December 2015 at 5:54

    I’ve heard about this town! It came up a lot when I was researching South America. At this point it’s probably going to be a while before I can get there but when I finally do I’ll make sure to check it out.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      23 December 2015 at 9:17

      Make sure you go, eventually. It is a fantastic place. All the benefits of a big city without the hassle, and gorgeous nature around!

  • Anna @AnnaEverywhere
    24 December 2015 at 15:30

    How funny as I actually used to live in Mendoza for an internship. To be honest I haven’t hated any other place to live as much as I hated my time in Mendoza… mostly because of people. I’m quite na easy-going person and I never have any troubles making friends, but after 2 months in Mendoza I haven’t had a single friendly soul nearby. Everyone was super unfriendly and didn’t want to help me with anything… I haven’t experienced it anywhere else 🙁
    Also, another thing that put me off Mendoza was the fact that every local claimed to be Italian more than Argentinian (despite the fact most of them never even been to Italy) and they pretended to know more about Europe than Europeans… it was actually quite ridiculous after a while…

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      24 December 2015 at 15:40

      They wouldn’t be able to pull that off with me as I am Italian! I don’t know what to say. It always is a matter of personal experience and luck and I had a great time there and fell in love with it. But then others told me they found Argentinians unfriendly. I shriek when I hear Italians are not nice to travelers, but… hey, that can happen too!

  • Loose Translations
    1 January 2016 at 14:26

    🙂 Reminded me of Bourgogne, France. Beautiful landscapes and even better wine 😉

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 January 2016 at 10:58

      I shouldn’t go there, then 😉 I would want to move there if I did!!

  • Jesper, The Biveros Effect
    17 January 2016 at 10:33

    I have heard so much nice about Mendoza, so it would be great to go there some day. But I guess that I will have to be satisfied with the Malbec-wine from the area instead this year. 🙂

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Who is Claudia?

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Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started travelling... except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. Learn more about me here...

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