16 Mar World Tour: Mendoza Vine Adventures – Secret Tables, Getting Lost in a Chef’s Garden & Sippin from a Wine Maker’s Dusty Bottles
Memorable Moment(s): Breakfast and lunch deep in the vines, and our chef wandering us through his garden as we gathered the night’s meal, before cooking enough empanadas for a week (see video below).
Days on Road: 72
Wines Tasted: 157
More odd-ball trip stats here.
WHERE WE ARE… NOW: Santa Barbara, California • LAST: Barra de Navidad, Mexico • NEXT: Carmel, California (for weddings)
Becoming one with the vines…
After 70 days on the road, we just got back to California for a few days of recharging while we attend a birthday and a wedding, then we’re off to dive into Europe, starting with Amsterdam.
But for now let’s get caught up on Part 1 Mendoza wine adventures…
We got a glimpse of gorgeous wine country in Cafayate, but Maipu, just outside of the Mendoza city center was pure heaven. At the end of every trip, we do a favorites list (favorite breakfast, favorite lunch, favorite dinner, favorite hotel, etc.) – but since this is a long trip, we decided to do an Argentina favorites list and our stay here topped the charts in multiple categories! Based off of a few recommendations, we stayed at Club Tapiz for 3 nights – it was literally in the vines, like no joke!
We love taking cooking classes in foreign countries because it always gives us some little tidbit of knowledge to take back home. So we had booked a cooking class for our first night here.
What unfolded the rest of the night blew us away (and left us with enough food for a week). Watch the little video below to get a feel for the party…
Don’t see a video? Click here.
We were the only two signed up and we were cooking with head chef, Gabi and our translator – who then brought her boyfriend to take some pics.
It was an incredible experience as they had a huge garden, so we were able to wander the lines of veggies to pick out fresh tomatoes to make tomaticán – a local dish in Mendoza. We also tried to pick just about every other thing growing out there…
We spent a few hours sipping wine, cooking dishes and practicing a lot of Spanish. They kinda missed the memo on us only eating fish and veggies so the menu consisted of:
Empanadas de carne, homemade bread, Tomatican (an egg and tomato dish), trout, roasted potatoes, homemade pancakes with dulce de leche and one huge steak.
And as it turns out if you are the only two to sign up for a cooking class it creates A LOT of food!!!! We tried to share with our gracious teachers but they insisted we take it all…
Hopefully someone got to enjoy all the leftover food as we never saw it again.
The next day we tried walking to a winery…
Chelsea’s bum knee kept us from biking to the nearby wineries, so we asked about walking.
Our hotel gave us a nearby suggestion and made it sound like it was a simple 20 minute walk – once again either people here severely underestimate things or we’re terrible walkers, because after about 45 minutes of walking on a dusty dirt road (and almost giving up due to heat & sun exposure, lack of signs and hardly a person in sight – except for one man resting in his car who’d clearly been served too much vino) we arrived to Bodega Familia Checchin. As has been proven to us many times before, it was worth every effort.
We weren’t able to do a tour because we arrived too late but we were allowed to do a tasting of their 100% organic wines prior to having lunch at the restaurant on-site. We were even able to taste some of the owner’s private collection of this hand labeled Malbec – look at how dusty that bottle is!!
We had no idea what to expect from the restaurant, but when we walked in and saw tables covered with a huge oak tree in the middle of the vines, Chelsea broke back into her happy vino shuffle. They had a price fixe menu, which once again, did not cater to our typical diet, but when in Argentina the steak replaces the tofu.
The menu included a glass of wine each, which seemed like plenty considering we had just tasted five others and it was lunchtime. We soon realized we were the only people at the restaurant without a bottle on our table, and watched the couple next two us have 2 bottles between the two of them. This brought new meaning to the sacred long Sunday meals Argentineans enjoy (except it wasn’t Sunday, or Saturday for that matter). Oh, and it made us extra careful in the parking lot – as no one seemed to be arriving or leaving by cab (or foot!).
The following morning was spent talking our way into the best table on the property for breakfast, which meant taking it upon ourselves to bring all our silverware and food up a tiny spiral staircase to second story that no one seemed to be using…
Checkout was at 11am, but we were seriously considering staying through to the free 8:00pm nightly wine tastings, but figured that might be pushing it…
Next stop: Mendoza city, our second flooded washer and a capsized river raft. More on that soon…
Happy thoughts from Mendoza,
Scott and Chelsea