May 10, 2013
“We have been in Mendoza almost two weeks. Our main activity is eating and drinking. We are in an amazing villa. Too much house for us, but not complaining. The owners connected us with Peter, the wine guy. Last week he delivered a few cases of wine. Nothing you can buy back home.”
Shortly after crossing the border, we passed Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Andes and Western Hemisphere at 22,837 feet. The tallest mountain in the USA is Denali (f.k.a. Mount McKinley) at 20,320 feet.
Our destination was Mendoza. Most of you have probably heard of Mendoza. Wine country! About one million people live there. It is a beautiful city. Part of that is due to an earthquake in 1861. Mendoza was leveled. Wise planners rebuilt the city. With a future earthquake in mind, they built spacious plazas for people to gather or evacuate when needed. And, wide city streets for easy travel even when filling with rubble. Mendoza is pretty much straight west of Cordoba.
We stayed outside Mendoza in the suburb of Chacras de Coria. We could easily visit the city with all the wineries still close enough, and here we found the perfect “home.”
We had booked Villa Viamonte for 1 month, but stayed a second month when the owners offered a great deal.
The weather was getting cooler, and being off-season, the tourists were scarce.
The owners connected us with Peter, the wine expert. We had Peter choose a few cases of wine for our home-cooked meals. We made weekly runs to town for the market, panaderia, pasta shop, butcher, and fish store.
However, for all the times on this trip we had eaten at home to save money, we now splurged. How can you say “no” to scrumptious, multi-course meals, many located at a vineyard offering the perfect wine pairings?!? A few places were closed or had limited hours since we were off-season.
It was hard to chose where to eat. We did our best to visit at least one new place each week.
This was lamb ragout with peas and pink peppercorns.
During one of our vineyard tours, our guide told us about how precious water is to this area. Overall, this area is quite dry. A river flows nearby. Canals shunt the water to smaller canals and eventually to those individuals that have a water permit. This is the only way you get water. Everyone knew the story of the guy who came to town, bought land, tilled and rowed the soil. BUT, he did not have a water permit. There are a limited number since any additions take water away from those farther down the canal. After all that money and work, he could not plant vines.
Loved this place with a tree indoors. They were closing the next day for the season.
They served us the most incredible meat and cheese platter. One of the salamis was the best I have ever eaten.
When we passed through Mendoza in 2015, we stopped here again just for the platter.
Some of the wineries were almost an hour out of town. A relaxing drive through breathtaking scenery with the Andes and Pre-Andes in the background.
Add to that, a delicious multi-course meal. We had one course served on a hot, flat rock. It’s all about presentation.
Of course, a fabulous meal made the wine even better. We bought bottles of wine at each place. Luckily, the Blue Rate was still at 12 pesos to dollar. We were spoiled: truly good wine worth far more than the asking price.
70% of Argentina’s wine is produced here.
One of the last places we ate had a large open kitchen where you could watch the chef. I was in heaven. Add to that a great view.
The presentation was stunning.
Like I said, all we did was eat and drink.
If you do not have a car, many wine tours are offered. Not a bad idea if you want to drink a bit more. We always kept the drive in mind while drinking. If you are driving, beware the drainage system. There is no curb. If you are not paying attention, you could drive right in.
If you want a break, go to Entre Cielos, a spa, restaurant, hotel. It was reasonably priced. There were multiple rooms offering saunas, massages and hot tubs. The saunas may not get as warm as they should off season. You might want to mention this when you make a reservation. I had my first wine bath here. The water was not just a little pink, it was a deep red, I couldn’t see my hand just a few inched below the surface. End your time with a couple’s massage and I promise you will be worthless the rest of the day.
We returned for a few days in April 2015 on our way from Colombia to San Martin de los Andes, Argentina. Villa Viamonte’s owners, Ann and Peter (not the same Peter who supplied us with cases of delicious wine), were staying there, but they offered us a room in their home. They are vintners from Canada. They also have a vineyard here and were in the process of bottling the wine. We had a chance to watch.
Loved being back in Villa Viamonte. Our wine supplier, Peter, did such a great job choosing wines for us in 2014, we had him put together a few cases for us to grab on our way through to San Martin.