When we arrived in Mendoza, I knew right away that we would have to take a wine tour. We did and it was AMAZING! To this day it was one of our favorite days in Argentina. We decided to do it the DIY route and rent bicycles and ride through Mendoza’s best wineries. We visited in January – the hottest time of the year. I would do it again in a heartbeat. This guide will show you how you can do it too. Check out our Instagram for a summary of how our day went.
We stayed in Hostel Lao in central Mendoza. The wineries are scattered all around the outside of the city. Some are very far and it’s impossible to see them all. However, a handful of them is located within a few miles of each other making it the perfect day trip to visit as many as possible.
Before biking: Trapiche Bodega
We visited the largest of them all Trapiche on one day by itself because we wanted to do a full guided tour and tasting. We wanted to take out time learning about the winemaking process. This is also the only winery that you must make a reservation for. While we made our reservation the day before, you can make a reservation for the same day. We took an Uber to the winery and a cab back. There are Ubers in Mendoza city center but there we none nearby the wineries. It cost ARS 87 on Uber and about ARS 115 return on a cab. The receptionist was very helpful at the end of the tour in calling the taxis for us. The tour lasted for about an hour followed by tasting 3 wines at your leisure. While the guide tries to keep pace, there is a nice balcony seating area in the tasting room that you can enjoy your wine. We purchased the Malbec reserve for USD 10 after the tour and tasting. It is delicious and I highly recommend taking a bottle.
How to get there
If you’ve taken the bus to Mendoza, you’ll be located right in Mendoza’s city center. And if you’re staying at Hostel Lao, you’re staying in the city center. (notice a pattern?) While there are a lot of delicious restaurants in the city center, all of the wineries and the bike rental is located in a nearby town, Coquimbito – about 45 mins away. The bike rental shop opens at 10 am and you’ll want to arrive no later than 11 am to get to all of the wineries before they close at 5 pm.
From the city center, you can take the 812, 813,815, 816,817, or 920 express bus toward Coquimbo. If you’re unsure, ask the driver “bicicletas y bodegas?” before boarding to confirm. You’ll also see other tourists heading the same way with the same intentions. One of the mentioned buses will come around every 5 minutes. We took the 812 to and from the bike rental because it was the first to arrive.
The buses do not take cash on-board, you must purchase a Red Bus Card before boarding the bus. The card costs ARS 10 and each ride is ARS 18 per person one-way. The cards are plentiful around town at small mini-market stalls or “kioskos”. If you ask your hostel they may let you borrow theirs (Thanks Hostel Lao!). Otherwise. it really won’t be a problem finding them around town. If you don’t get the bus card. we’ve heard that the Argentinians and tourists are very nice that if you are at the bus stop you can ask if they will swipe you in. We’ve seen this for one couple where a couple of tourists swiped them in.
Renting a bicycle
There are two main bike rental places: Maipu Bike Rentals and Mr. Hugo’s. Both companies only take cash and are priced competitively. Maipu Bike Rentals allows you to pay in USD because of the currency issues facing Argentina. They are located on the same street and for all intents and purposes, the same. We chose to rent from Maipu because we saw them first getting off the bike but we are very happy we chose them. They open at 10 am and close at 6 pm with a free unlimited happy hour from 5 pm – 6 pm. It’s the perfect social way to end the day with new friends over wine.
Once you get your bikes settled at Maipu, you’re on your way to some of the best wine in the world. We headed south from Maipu first and visited MEVI, Tempus Alba, and El Cerno on the one day. This itinerary allows plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy lunch. If you want to do Trapiche on the same day there is more than enough time. We moved very slowly and still arrived at the bike shop early for happy hour. A group of friends we met was able to visit 6 wineries in one day but they did not eat lunch.
MEVI is the furthest winery from the bike shop so we started there first and decided to work our way back. It’s about 30-40 minute riding time – most of which is on the main road, Urquiza. The winery is located 6 km away and 4.5 km of that is on Urquiza. There are bike paths along the road except for a very small section. To get to MEVI, make a left out of the store. Then, take the second exit out of the roundabout (take your time and be careful of cars especially if you’re not used to bike riding). Continue straight for 1.5 km until turning left Moreno Street. If that is confusing, you can follow others headed in the same direction.
MEVI is described as a modern boutique winery and we would agree. The best seats are on the back balcony where we got these amazing pictures. There are two options for tastings, 3 varietal wines or 3 reserved wines. We opted to try all of them since there are two of use. We ordered one reserved tasting, on varietal tasting, plus a salami and cheese platter. All of that came to $13.36. We were in no rush and enjoyed 1.5 hours at the first winery. If you are rushing or attempting to do more wineries, I would suggest skipping the wine and cheese platter although it was delicious and very affordable.
After taking several pictures and savoring every sip of wine, we were back on the bikes to Tempus Alba winery. It’s less than a kilometer away from MEVI. In fact, you would’ve passed it on your way. It is also located on Moreno Street. We stayed here the longest since we decided to stop here to enjoy lunch.
Tempus Alba is described as also a modern boutique winery. It has a free self-guided tour with placards in English describing different parts of the wine-making process. We walked around the property for about 30 minutes before getting too hot since we visited in the height of summer. The grounds are beautiful and I would encourage you to explore them (and take lots of pictures)
There are two options for tastings at Tempus Alba. The first option is $150ARS ( $2.50 USD) and includes 3 varietal wines.The second option is ARS 200 (USD 3.33) and includes two varietal wine plus their Pleno Reserve. We decided to both get option 2 since the prices are so affordable. After indulging in 3 glasses of wine each, we ordered lunch. If you’re in a rush, I would suggest telling the servers because the service is extremely slow here. Good for us that we were taking our sweet time. We sat outside on the back balcony and enjoyed the views. It is a covered balcony but again extremely hot. For two lunch meals and two wines tastings, we spend USD 24.52 in total.
At this point, we decided to backtrack towards MEVI (not to worry- these three are very close). At this point, you’ve ridden past it twice so you’ll know exactly where it is. El Cerno is an antique winery where the wine is organic. This is the only organic wine we’ve had and determined it was well worth the stop.
There are two tasting options- two wines or three wines and a tour. We opted for the two types of wine. There is one price regardless of the type of wine. The two types of wine tasting are ARS 180 ($3.00USD) each. El Cerno serves their tastings in full 6 oz cups as opposed to the others who only offer a sample. This was more wine than we expected and happily engulfed all our wine. We stayed for about an hour.
Ending the day
After our three tastings at 3 different wineries, we slowly rode back to the Maipu Bike shop to enjoy the happy hour. We arrived at 5:15 pm and were among the first 10 guests to arrive. The wine was free-flowing for an entire hour. Other guests arrived after 5:30 on with no problems returning their bikes. The shop claims to close at 6 pm but we still in full swing when we left at 6:15 pm. Once we were nice and wine drunk, we crossed the street for the 812 bus back to central Mendoza.
We chose to take the day very slow soaking in all of the experience (and wine). We could’ve moved through each of the wineries faster and thus been to more wineries. The wineries are generally open from 10 am to 5 pm. So, if you arrive right at 10 am and spend an hour at each winery you can theoretically make 7 stops.
We chose to explore the wineries south but there are several others north worth checking out. Also, we went to Trapiche on a different day but you can definitely fit in all on the same day.
If you’re looking for something other than wine, there is an olive vineyard along this route. They specialize in olives and producing olive oil. You can even sample different olives and olive oils for $180 ARS ($3.00 USD). Although you have many options, we absolutely loved the tour we created and wouldn’t change a thing. Leave me a comment below if you are considering a DIY self-guided winery tour in Mendoza. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.
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I love how you and your Hunny are living! Will be waiting for all the new blogs. I have 6/7 years before I empty nest and take off! My eldest daughter lived in Chile/Peru for 6months during undergrad and has actually lived in Peru another summer working for the State Department. As a student she hiked all over Peru and went to Rapa Nui
(Easter Island). So she could can definitely give you some insight on Peru on a slimmer budget.
This looks like a really great time. Thanks for sharing!