Biking the Wineries

Coquimbito Travel Blog

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Wine wagons outside the museum at Bodega La Rural.

Well, a very active day for us today!  For two people who have become relativly unfit, we are very proud to say we cycled about 25 kms today, fortified along the way by wine, bread, cheese and olive oil!!  We caught the local bus to the town of Coquimbito where we were accosted by a couple of touts from a bicycle company.  As they were half the price of what we thought we were going to pay, and their bikes looked pretty good, we went with them.  So, 30 pesos later, off we went on our bikes, being laughed at by all the locals as we were wearing helmets (not common here, but when you see the South American style of driving, we wouldn´t go near a bike without at least that little bit of extra protection!).

Bodega La Rural cabernet sauvignon vines with the Andes towering above.
  Our first stop, after a couple of kilometres, was Bodega La Rural.  This is set within the walls of an old wine bodega, and has (they claim) one of the best wine museums in the Americas.  After seeing it, we would agree.  The museum has exhibits dating from the 16th century, and the scale of the collection is quite impressive.  You can only visit the winery on a tour, and they take you through a few vines, a quick look at the industrial side of things, then into the museum followed by a small taste of wine.  The tour was free, and in Spanish, and don´t know if it´s possible to get one in English.  We learnt that the method of vine growing that we´ve seen in South America whereby the grapes are trained up onto a high trellis, sort of like kiwi fruit, is to keep the sun of the grapes.
A whole cow hide in which the workers used to stomp on the grapes to crush them, with the juice coming out the tail end!
  It also means they can only be picked by hand, but wine is quite cheap here, so labour obviously is too.  The tour explained that during the harvest, many workers come from Bolivia and Peru to work because they can earn enough in 3 months work here to survive for the rest of the year in their home country.

Back onto the bikes for another couple of kilometres ride around to Tempus Alba, which appeared to be quite a new vineyard, but as we couldn´t find anyone there, we left!  There was a self-guided tour on a piece of A4 paper, and a wine bar upstairs where we assume tastings could be had, but no sign of people.  Went across the road to Viña el Cerno, for a most enjoyable tasting where we met another couple of Aussies, and had a good chat to them while testing 5 of the winery´s offerings.

Cooperage tools and old barrels in the wine museum.
  The tasting here cost 30 pesos for 5 tastings, but they were fairly good size glasses.  No tour offered, although no doubt you can do on in the higher season.

Next ride was quite long, and our legs were starting to feel it a bit.  Stopped at Bodega Flia di Tommaso, one of the few family owned wineries still around.  The tour here was very brief, just past the old brick vats (which are now used for bottle storage as there is no fermentation done on site anymore), down through an old vat into the cellars and up back into the tasting area.  Tasting and tour cost 5 pesos, and we got to try 4 varieties, including a dessert wine.  Meals were available, but were a bit pricey (although sounded very nice) and also a bit too much food for when cycling, so we carried on to our last one, Boutique Winery Carinae.

Wine bottles stored in the brick vats at Flia di Tommasso.
  We could have done a tour here, but were getting short of time, so just did a tasting.  The guide spoke very good English and was very knowledgeable about her product.  Tasting and tour costs 10 pesos, but if you buy a bottle, you get that refunded.  We bought a bottle of malbec here, but the one we tried at the winery tasted much better than the one we took home!  We also tried a glass of their premium malbec (5 pesos) which was noticeably better than any other malbec we´ve tasted over here. 

We then walked the bikes across the road to the Olivicola Laur for a tour of the olive oil factory.  We saw some 100 year old trees in the grove, and then had a look at some of the old pressing machinery before seeing the modern equipmet.  At the end, we were given a large plate of bread, sundried tomatoes and olive oil to try - delicious, and just what we needed before cycling back to Coquimbito.

The old brick vats at Fli di Tommasso.
  Also, very good value at only 5 pesos each.

Only thing remaining was the cycle back to the township, which actually wasn´t too bad as there was a very slight downhill slope so could coast a bit.  Got the bus back to Mendoza, and had a dinner of wine, olives, cheese, salami and sundried tomatoes, all bought during the day - perfect!

A WORD OF ADVICE: small change is almost impossible to find in Argentina, like Bolivia.  The buses only take exact money of abour 1,10 pesos, but to actually get the coins is a task in itself.  No-one ever has them, so save your coins carefully!

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Wine wagons outside the museum at …
Wine wagons outside the museum at…
Bodega La Rural cabernet sauvignon…
Bodega La Rural cabernet sauvigno…
A whole cow hide in which the work…
A whole cow hide in which the wor…
Cooperage tools and old barrels in…
Cooperage tools and old barrels i…
Wine bottles stored in the brick v…
Wine bottles stored in the brick …
The old brick vats at Fli di Tomma…
The old brick vats at Fli di Tomm…
Noel and Melissa proudly still sta…
Noel and Melissa proudly still st…
1oo year old olive trees at Olivic…
1oo year old olive trees at Olivi…
The road home to Coquimbito, so ve…
The road home to Coquimbito, so v…
Coquimbito
photo by: sissanoel