We had high hopes for our wine tour by bike through Maipú, in the heart of Argentina’s wine region. What could be better than a leisurely bike ride through a cute old town with wineries on one side and the Andes on the other? But our experience didn’t quite match up with our expectations.
We hopped off the bus in Maipú and rented two rickety bikes. Winery map in hand, we started pedaling toward the first winery. Based on the map, it should have only been a few blocks away. Then again, the map didn’t have a scale.
Eight kilometers later we pulled into the old-fashioned bodega, happy to be alive. The bike shop didn’t have any helmets and the bike lane ended after a few blocks. The wine route turned out to be a run-down major road, with cement trucks whizzing by at 70 mph, barely swerving to avoid us and kicking up dust and spewing exhaust in our faces.
Not quite the majestic, peaceful experience we’d hoped for, but we tried to look on the bright side.
Not the scenery we’d imagined
Two large dogs greeted us at the first winery, which consisted of five unlabeled buildings. We ventured into one and found a winery tour in progress. We tagged along for 15 minutes during which I learned 1) you should always store wine on the first floor of your house and the bottle should be kept horizontal and 2) when you buy wine at the store, take a bottle from the back of the shelf because it’s been exposed to less light. At least I think that’s what the guide said. It was all in Spanish and I struggled to keep up. Then the tour group went to do a tasting, which was a bit too expensive for us, and we took off.
The next winery looked close, but I feared the map might be deceiving us again. Fortunately, it only took 10 minutes to get there and this bodega was much more scenic, less busy, more reasonably priced, and served food. That’s more like it. We did the tour, ordered a delicious meal, and proceeded to split a bottle of wine.
Wine and food — that’s more like it
Feeling content (and more than a bit tipsy), we stopped at one last winery. We walked through its museum and saw an entire cow skin that had once been used to filter wine. Bizarre. We sampled one of their wines, then decided it was time to call it quits for the day.
We headed back to the bike shop, stopping only to sample exotic liqueurs at a store along the way (a delicious but bad idea after aforementioned bottled of wine). The exhaust and dust that coated our faces and lungs was less bothersome in our inebriated state.
Content after a five hour day of bodega tours, we returned our bikes and got on a bus headed for Mendoza. The day wasn’t what we expected, but we still had fun. With good weather and good wine, you can’t go wrong.