Bariloche is a very recreational city because of its location at the beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi and at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The lake and area look and feel very much like Lake Tahoe in California. The mountains are more dramatic than Tahoe, but when we look out from our window at the Design Suites, we think of Tahoe. It is off-season in Bariloche but when winter comes the area will be jammed with ski enthusiasts. Bariloche has the largest ski resort area in South America. During the summer months there are beaches for sunbathing and many opportunities for trekking and fishing.
Well, not in Napa Valley but in Argentina and in other parts of the southern hemisphere. We are in the Mendoza wine country of Argentina where the harvest has been taking place since the beginning of February and will continue through April. We were fortunate to see harvesters working the vineyards at two wineries we visited, and we also had a very nice chat with a small vineyard owner who explained in detail the way harvest works in Argentina.
The crew consists of workers from the northern part of Argentina who spend the entire agricultural season traveling from crop to crop. For the wine industry, crews can be hired from an agency or as individuals. When a winery uses an agency, they pay the agency a fee and pay each worker by the amount he or she picks. Smaller wineries may have their own crew that they hire individually. These workers are also paid by each bin they fill. There are no unions, so all the workers can do is walk off a job to try and negotiate a better rate with the winery.
We just arrived in Bariloche after two splendid days making our way from Chile to Bariloche, Argentina. One can do the crossing in one day but we decided it would be more fun and relaxing to take the two-day tour excursion. We’d arrived at the airport in Puerto Monte where we were met by a driver and guide. It was a great idea for us to hire the guide, no mess, no fuss getting from the airport to our hotel in Puerto Vargas, a nearby smaller town. It is a Sunday when we arrive and just as in Europe almost everything is closed except for restaurants and the local supermercado. The town is very quaint but not much is going on here.
Our wine touring is over and now we begin the second phase of our three-week trek. We fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt, a small village in Chile in what is known as the lake district or northern Patagonia. Here we will take a boat ride across the lakes taking us from Chile to Bariloche, Argentina.
We have been in Chile for six days and have learned much about the people of Chile and their culture. The main meal of the day in Chile is lunch, lasting as long as two hours. It can start as early as noon or later depending on the area. In the town of Santa Cruz people stream onto the streets at noon to begin their lunch. They spend their lunch in the electronic game arcades, cafeterias, tucked away cafes, or just talking on the street with their friends. At 5 or 6 pm, Chileans will also have some tea or milk, and a snack. Dinner begins at 8:30 or later, but it is a much smaller meal than lunch.
Our next stop on our Mendoza wine tour is the Posada Salentein, a wine lodge owned by the Bodega Salentein, located in the Valle de Uco. The Valle de Uco or Uco Valley is located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, some 90 Kilometers south of our last stop, Club Tapiz. The elevation here … Read more
We are leaving Club Tapiz and will be heading for our next accommodations at Posada Salentein, 90 kilometers away in the Uco Valley. On the way we are visiting Catena Zapata, one of the most famous and influential wineries in Argentina. Club Tapiz has been a wonderful experience and the staff has treated us with much care and graciousness. We had delicious meals, relaxing massages and a great time conversing with other guests. We hope Posada Salentein will be just as welcoming.
Today our plan is to visit the Tapiz winery located in the Maipu Valley and the Melipal winery located in Lujan de Cuyo. These are two of the four wine regions of Mendoza, the other two are the Valle de Uco and San Rafael, which is in south Mendoza. We were surprised to learn that the elevation here is over a 1000 feet and as high as 4500 feet for some vineyards in the Valle de Uco. These wine regions are experiencing tremendous growth as foreign investors see the potential for wine in this area. The Mendoza wine region will continue to grow as long as there is enough water. Mendoza receives very little rainfall during the year because it is east of the Andes. The snowmelt from the Andes is the key to providing irrigation for all the vineyards. Aqueducts and well water have been utilized extensively to capture the valuable runoff.
Mendoza is the Napa Valley of Argentina with some 900 wineries located in three separate regions on the eastern side of the Andes Mountain Range. It is harvest time, so there is much activity up and down the roads of this wine region. Mendoza is desert country, and much of it looks sparse and … Read more
After flying for what seems to be an eternity we have arrived in Argentina. We are only here for one night in Buenos Aires, leaving for Mendoza’s wine country on Wednesday. We will be back here at the end of our trip for four nights so we have a half-day to scout around. As we … Read more