A popular activity in Mendoza is to rent some bikes and ride to as many wineries as possible. There are many within the Maipu Valley, making for a great day out to taste some amazing wines of the region. The great thing about this day trip is that you can easily do it without a tour, making your way via public transport to Maipu and then renting bikes with the local companies. To help you achieve this, here is a rundown guide on how to get to and participate in wine tastings all over the valley!
Form a Group
Drinking wine we feel is best done in a group, and there is something great about sharing wine and riding drunkenly around the streets of the Maipu Valley.
With that being said, we happily formed a group of friends from our hostel (there ended up being a really good group with 10 of us going) and all made our way to taste some Argentinian wine!
How to Get There
Now that you have your group, you need to make your way out to the streets of Mendoza and find the bus that will take you directly to the bike rental place. The first thing you need to realise about Mendoza is that they use a bus card system, and that you cannot just get on a public bus and pay in cash.
The bus card in Mendoza is called Red Bus, and you can purchase a card for 20ARS from most kiosks or small mini-markets in town. You can usually also recharge at these spots, so you need to make sure to put enough on your card to get you to the Maipu Valley and back.
The bus that you need to take is called the G10 (group 10), with the bus number you need to take either being the 172 or 173. These will take you to the town of Coquimbito, which is where the bike rental places are located. The cost of the bus will be 10.4ARS each way per person, a very cheap cost to get you to the wine! Note that you can also catch a train to and from the Maipu Valley, with there being another bike rental place at the stop (it is further away from where the bus drops you off). We won’t go into the train here, as the bike rental place we chose is a key part of your day!
Finally, to catch the G10 172 or 173 you need to make your way to Calle Rioja, inbetween Calle Moron and Calle Republica de Siria. Above the small posted bus stations will be numbers (the groups – you’re looking for 10), with the corresponding buses that pass through (172 or 173).
Renting the Bikes
When you arrive in Maipu on the bus, you will be in the immediate vicinity of two bike hire options. These are called Maipu Bikes and Mr. Hugo’s Bike Rental. Both supply these bikes for 100ARS a day, though the difference between the 2 is that Maipu Bikes offers you a great little happy hour (from 5pm to 6pm – after you visit the wineries) with free wine on offer and cheap options for beer and food.
Based on the happy hour (and a discount on the bike price as there were 10 of us), we went into the office and signed up for the bikes. We would implore you to test your bike before you get on it just in case, though all bikes at Maipu seemed quite sturdy with good tread on the tyres.
When you pay for bike, you are supplied with a map of the region with most wineries (though not all) marked on the map. The operator will then give you a rundown of each vineyard, with costs of tastings and tours. They will also supply you with information on other options in the area, including 2 olive groves that do tastings of olives, olive oils, and sweet liqueurs.
Here’s a short snipped of our group riding the streets!
Whilst we were given a map of some of the more popular wineries around the area, being backpackers we also wanted to save a bit of money. In saying this, there are a few wineries kind of lumped together which made the decision easier for us. Whilst we weren’t against riding longer distances, we wanted to cover as many wineries as possible so chose to head towards the following vineyards which were closer together:
Tempus Alba was our first stop on our bike ride, with the promise of a free self-guided tour (what a way to start right?!), followed by a cheap tasting. We felt that this would be a great way of seeing how wine is produced without having to follow a lengthy tour. What followed was a quick walk-around to view the vineyard, followed by seeing the fermentation and storage areas of the winery.
After this, we all made our way up to the lovely patio that they have to sit in the sun and took advantage of the great mountain views. Then, for the low price of 65ARS, we were able to choose 3 wines to sample from the Tempus Alba range, and have the opportunity to order some food, full glasses of wine, or even a bottle. From the range, our absolute favourite was the Merlot (a kick in the face to the mostly Malbec producing region), followed closely by the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Starting to feel that familiar buzz, we decided to hop onto our bikes and make our way a mere 200 metres down the road towards our next winery, Viña el Cerno.
Viña el Cerno
Viña el Cerno was touted to us as an organic winery, which is another reason why we wanted to head to this little bundle of wineries. We have always been pretty enthusiastic about organic wine, and have previously toured organic wineries on our travels.
Unfortunately when we got to Cerno we were told that they were not doing tastings, but that we could purchase a few bottles if we wanted and sit outside to have them. Fortunately the prices of the wine were relatively cheap at around 90-110ARS for the low to mid range wines (180 for the high end which is still a good deal), so we picked out a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon and moved to the sun to have a picnic with our bottles.
So for our group this is where our experience at Cerno took a bit of a turn. Whilst we absolutely loved the Cabernet Sauvignon that we consumed first, all of us were immediately put off by the Malbec which we had opened second. Thinking that there might be a problem with the wine (or that it might be corked), we went to the owner to see if we might be able to swap it for another bottle of Cab Sauv. Unfortunately instead we were berated by the owner who stated that their wine was perfect and that it was our own fault the wine tasted bad (to all of us no doubt). She said our palettes were too young to appreciate this full-bodied wine, and that our choice of cheese and bread to have for our lunch was also ruining the taste for us.
We were completely shocked that she would not swap out the wines for us, but of course we also wouldn’t want this to stop you from visiting as they did have some great wines on offer.
Moving towards being drunk, we got back on our bikes and moved another 700 metres down the same street to Mevi. Noticing the time we all realised this would be our last winery, as it was getting close to happy hour time back at the bike hire place.
We were given the option at Mevi, whilst sitting on another great patio, of a normal tasting for 75ARS or a premium wine tasting (of their reserve range) for 90ARS. Each of us seemed to order something different, but once again the tasting allowed you to have 3 glasses of different varieties. Out of the ‘normal’ range of wines on offer we enjoyed the Torrontes and the Malbec, whilst the reserve range ended up being our favourite wines of the day. The reserves included a Malbec, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Syrah. We were blown away by the Malbec and Cabernet, and I even ended up buying a bottle of the Cab Sauv to consume back in Australia!
Whilst we ran out of time after reaching Mevi, there were a few other places (including non-wineries) that we would also definitely recommend if you have time. Unfortunately for us we got way too caught up drinking copious amounts of wine (who wouldn’t!) but maybe you will have better luck. These places include:
We had heard great things about the olive groves and production in the Mendoza area, and that behind wine it was a famous industry for them. Entre Olivos provides tour and tasting sessions close to the wineries, with the chance to have olives, olive oil, and even some different sweet liqueurs (not olive flavoured).
If we ever come back we will head here first, otherwise the same cruel cycle (pun intended) of riding to multiple wineries will continue to slow us down!
The guys at Maipu Bikes told us when we arrived that if we liked we could book in for a tasting at Trapiche, one of the oldest and biggest wineries in the region. Whilst we ended up not taking them up on the offer, we heard some great things about the winery and of course the wine.
For 150ARS you can do a tour and tasting here, which was made unique to some friends of ours by trying wine made just 3 days apart. Whilst not seeming like much, the wine apparently tasted completely different, providing a unique wine experience.
Wine Happy Hour
When renting a bike with Maipu Bikes, you also get the perk of a wine happy hour in their wine bar (next to the hire shop) from 5pm-6pm. This gives you free wine for the hour home-made by the shops owner.
We arrived back from our self-guided winery bike tour just before 6pm, though the owner graciously provided us with ample wine to keep us fueled! Fortunately the wine was also quite nice as well, which made for a great ending to the day.
Getting Your Drunk Ass Home
Walking out of the wine bar at an early closing time of 7pm, the trip home was made easy enough by only having to cross the road from Maipu Bikes to catch the bus home.
Once again, you want to wait for the G10, with either bus number 172 or 173 to get you back into the centre of town. We accidentally got onto a 171 bus thinking it would take us back, and ended up back at the bus terminal which is slightly out of town.
Riding bikes to wineries is a lot more fun than you think, and can be done so easily without a tour. We had a great time with new friends, enjoyed some amazing wines, and really wish that we could have returned day after day to visit new wineries!