Maipú is the third and smallest of the wine regions of Mendoza, located about 15 km south of the city. It is the easiest region to reach by public transportation (take bus #10 from Rioja & Sarmiento, routes 171, 172, or 173; $3.60 Argentine pesos/person round trip = <$1). This is the area best for biking wine tours – and therefore a cheap, active day – as the bodegas tend to be smaller, closer together, and have rustic shops (selling chocolate, olive oil, etc.) scattered along the path from one winery to the next.
There are at least 5 companies offering biking tours in Maipú: (1) Hugo’s Bikes, (2) Coco Bikes, (3) Bikes and Wine, (4) Bike Cool Tours, and (5) Orange Bikes. Lonely Planet recommends Coco Bikes, many online sites say Bikes and Wine has poor equipment, and a ton of sources (especially Trip Advisor and our local bus driver) prefer Hugo’s Bikes. We therefore chose to give Hugo’s Bikes a try…unfortunately, though, he was closed for the New Year celebration, so we were left with Coco Bikes. Unphased, we excitedly hopped onto our bikes and starting making our way around Maipú. Here’s a map borrowed from Bikes and Wines showing the route:
- Chocolateria “La Antigua” – Chocolates
- Museo del Vino Bga La Rural– Wine Museum – La Rural Winery
- Bodega Viña María – Viña María Winery
- Licores y Chocolates “Historia y sabores” – Liquors and Chocolates
- Bodega Trapiche – Trapiche Winery
- Delicatessen – Almacén del Sur
- Bodega Tempus Alba – Tempus Alba Winery
- Bodega Viña el Cerno – Viña el Cerno Winery
- Bodega Familia Di Tomasso – Di Tomasso Family Winery
- Bodega Vistandes – Vistandes Winery
- Olivícola Laur – Olive Oil Factory Laur
- Bodega Carinae – Carinae Winery
- Hotel Rural – Restaurant “El Agua Miel” – Hotel and Restaurant El Aguamiel
Overall, we enjoyed our day in Maipú and definitely think it is worth a visit if you have a few days in Mendoza (for those on a tighter schedule, we suggest the other 2 regions first).
Our recommendations from today are:
- Make sure you like to bike
- Pick a day < 98° F to bike
- Use Mr. Hugo’s Bikes. His shop is cute, with outdoor tables, provides bottled water for the day, has competitive prices, and the bikes are in better shape. Coco Bikes was a run-down shop without seating or complimentary water, and the bikes lacked functioning breaks, had chains that were easily dislodged, and – the saddest of all – the cruiser bikes were basketless. Fail.
- In terms of bodegas, we recommend a visit to Trapiche and Carinae. Trapiche is a massive producer, with various lines, a decent facility, and a good variety of tasting options. Carinae is open almost daily and is run by a French couple; it is acclaimed as the best bodega in Mendoza for star gazing. It’s also the furtherest away on the trail, which is why we didn’t make it. However, the reviews we heard and our sampling of their Syrah at the Vines of Mendoza leads us to recommend it. Avoid La Rural like the plague. This is a tourist trap with a mini wine museum and awful wine (1 free sample might sound appealing, but no vale la pena).
- Consider having lunch at Alamacén del Sur or Casa del Campo. The former is allegedly amazing and offers tours of their organic gardens (it was closed when we tried to visit). The later is a local joint, family-run, and serves up hearty, traditional cuisine; it also boasts a large wine selection.