Day 376 of 400: Lujan de Cuyo to San Rafael – Argentina

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Our wine tasting started at Mendel Winery today…it was suppose to be by appointment only but we managed to sneak our way into someone else’s private tasting appointment. The group was just finishing their tour of the winery and were walking over to the tasting room which was pre-set with wine glasses, crackers and water.

Before sitting down to taste, we watched the production line outside as they were labeling and packaging their wine. It is always fun to see the wine get its final touches and placed in the box for shipment. We then walked over to the tasting room and nudged our way to a place setting.

The women walked us through each of their various wines…having us taste and telling us about how it was made and details of what we should be tasting/smelling. She also snuck into the barrel room and scooped out some of the wine that wasn’t quite ready…she wanted us to compare the same wine/grape but one which was bottled and ready and the other which was still aging. We actually preferred the barrel wine…it had a stronger full-bodied flavor. The wine unfortunately was a little on the pricey side so we didn’t buy too much but we did get a bottle before leaving and thanked the group for letting us attend.

Our next stop was at LaGarde Winery which did their tasting along with a multi-course lunch. The setting was nice, it was outside in a courtyard where the weather was beautiful. They started us with a glass of champagne and then we moved onto a grilled veggie salad to start and Giff ordered the empenadas…both paired with a white wine. For our entrée’s, Giff had the salmon with thick cut fries and I had the pork loin with mashed potatoes both of which were good and served with a red wine. The lunch closed with a delicious lemon tart and scoop of chocolate ice-cream as well as a warm peach dessert, both also served with a glass of wine…it was relaxing and delicious, who says lunch should take a couple hours?

We decided not to buy any wine being we spent more money than planned on the lunch and the bottle of wine we wanted was already expensive. We got back into our car and settled in…we had a long drive ahead of us. For the next 5 days, we are staying in an area called San Rafael which is about 150 miles away from Mendoza…also known for its wine. We thought it would be fun to really try the different areas and regions since we are here for a month.

The drive was extremely boring…kind of equal to the drive from Los Angeles to Vegas. We arrived in San Rafael and were trying to read the map and figure out where in the heck we were going. We drove way past the village area and then finally pulled over to ask for directions. The guy of course did not speak English so through my minimal Spanish and hand gestures we found out we went the wrong way…we needed to turn around. So…again back through town and still couldn’t find where the heck we were. The women at the grocery store didn’t really speak English but knew the road we were looking for so drew us a map. That got us closer…we stopped a women jogging outside who also spoke no English…she pointed in the direction we were to drive. We were getting frustrated…then we saw a sign on the side of the road advertising our B&B with a little map. The map really made no sense…we  took the dirt road pretty far down and asked a man outside fixing his car…he pointed in the opposite direction. Where in the world were we??? Finally, we figured it out…we found the tiny little dirt road on the side of a random building with a hand painted sign naming the street. We drove pretty far down the road and sure enough…there it was fenced in and in the middle of no where.

The owner and her dogs greeted us as we pulled in the long driveway of La Carmelita. She said we were late and we told her we spent hours looking for her place!! The B&B was on a farm…there was the main building which was her home and had a big patio in the back where breakfast would be served, and then in the back yard were an additional 2 buildings with about 4 bedrooms in each for guests. The room thankfully had an air conditioner as well as a little patio which overlooked the horses grazing in the field. We opened a bottle of wine and relaxed for the rest of the evening, eating little picnic foods we had gathered along the way.

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