Vino and a missing corkscrew – Cafayate, Argentina

Salta was simply a stopover for us on our way to Cafayate. We arrived around nine at night, grabbed dinner, and went to bed. The following morning we had to say goodbye to Alaina, she was off to Buenos Aires and we were off to Cafayate. Once again it was hard to say goodbye, we had shared so many great memories together both in the jungle and the Salt Flats and were really going to miss her.

The ride to Cafayate was a quick 4 hours and we were excited to enter wine country! After settling into our hostel, we headed to some wineries around the main square. Our group had grown to four, we met an Italian on our bus ride to Cafayate named Filipo. Being on a traveler’s budget, our first stop was a winery with free tastings. Farima, Jaab, Filipo, and I tasted a Malbec and a Torrontes. The Torrontes grape is Argentina’s number-one white wine and grows abundantly in Cafayate. After our first tasting, we headed to the second winery where we tasted four different types of wines, a Malbec, a Rose, another Torrontes, and a Cabernet. We ended up buying a bottle of the Rose to go with dinner the same night. At our third and last winery for the day we decided to just buy different bottles of wine instead of doing tastings since it ended up being cheaper that way. We sat outside in the courtyard overlooking the vineyard, enjoying the weather, wine, and the company. For dinner, we bought some Argentinian meat and vegetables to grill over the BBQ back at our hostel. There was a nice size group of us hanging out, BBQing, and enjoying delicious local Argentinian wine!

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The following morning, the four of us rented bikes from the hostel to explore the wineries a bit further away. The bikes had definitely seen better days and weren’t exactly the best for dirt roads. The first winery we stopped at was Vasija Secreta, where we enjoyed a bottle of wine and cheese. After relaxing for a bit, we hopped back on our bikes in search of the next winery. The next stop was a bit out of our price range so we decided to skip it and head to the next on the list… little did we know it was an hour away. Since our bikes were a bit old, it was difficult to try and bike uphill, against the wind, on gravel, not to mention a couple glasses of wine deep. At one point, Farima and I gave up and decided it would be easier to walk our bikes instead (no shame).

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On our hour adventure, we ended up following a sign for a winery that seemed to have closed ages ago once we actually reached it. As unfortunate as that was, on our way back up the main road we stopped at a local family’s house and had a wine tasting experience like no other. An older man who was the owner of the property/vineyard, poured us tasting of his homemade wine he produced in barrels placed in his own garage. It was a cool experience to taste a local wine straight from the barrel that was made using clay barrels by a local rather than what we were used to in our previous wine tasting experiences.

We were all getting pretty tired from the strenuous bike ride so decided to make the next stop our last. The last winery was absolutely breathtaking and probably one of the nicest wineries I’ve ever been to, and not just in a foreign country. Since we were all exhausted anyway, we stayed a little longer and enjoyed lunch at the winery’s restaurant overlooking the vineyard and surrounding meadows. Our ride back to town was a lot easier, downhill and with the wind. The hour ride back only took us about 15 minutes to return. As if wine wasn’t enough of a reward for biking, we headed straight to the ice cream shop known for its famous wine ice cream, where Farima, Filipo, and I enjoyed a Cabernet flavored ice cream and Jaap had the Torrontes one.

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We headed back to the hostel after our desert and Farima and I dropped our bikes and the boys off and headed to the square to explore the numerous shops and have some girl shopping time. Upon our return to the hostel, there was another big group of people BBQing so we ended up joining them for our last night in Cafayate, eating, chatting, and enjoying more delicious Argentinian wine. That same night we said goodnight to everyone around 2 am since Jaab, Farima, and I had to catch our bus to Tucuman (6 hours away), where we then had to catch another to our next stop in Argentina, Iguazu Falls(19 hours). As much as I was dreading our 25 hour journey, it surprisingly wasn’t as bad as expected. The bus company gave us lots of food and played pretty good movies – they were even in English! Although it was a fairly easy bus ride, I was beyond ready to get off the bus when we arrived in Iguazu around 9:30 am a day later. Cafayate was an enjoyable and relaxing few days and I’m glad to have experienced the Argentinian wine country different than the norm.

Edited by: Farima Mn.

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