Mendoza Wine & Ride: Seeing the Wine Region on Bicycle

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What do you do when the wineries are not in the city center? What’s the best way to visit them, and how do you get there without a car? You wine & ride, of course. I want to make figuring out those logistics easier for you!

There are two main wine areas just outside of Mendoza: Lujan de Cuyo and MaipĂș. I want to focus on the latter.

I rented a bicycle from Wine & Ride, and I want to give my honest opinion here so that you figure out what is best for you.

How do you get to MaipĂș from the center of Mendoza?

This is incredibly simple, and because of its simplicity, it tends to be the more popular region to visit from the center of Mendoza. All you need to do is take the train 30 minutes. The train runs along Avenida Belgrano in the center of Mendoza. The first stop is “Estacion Mendoza” just north of Las Heras. The next, and most central stop, is called “Belgrano,” just a couple blocks north of Avenida Villanueva Aristides. The train tracks go down the center of the street, with car traffic on either side. Take the train headed south.

The great thing about the bus/train system in Mendoza is that it operates using the SUBE card. You can use the same SUBE card in Mendoza as in Buenos Aires. The ride costs 40 pesos. There are small boxes to tap your card once you enter the train. You can see my post on public transportation here.

The last stop is Gutierrez, which is where you’ll get off. This is also the exact stop where you’ll go to take the train back up to Mendoza. Because Gutierrez is the last stop, you can take the train that leaves from either side of the tracks.

How do I rent a bicycle in Maipu?

This is very easy. All you need to do is walk three minutes from the Gutierrez station until you find Wine & Ride located on Ozamis street. It is really obvious so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it. There are a ton of bicycles outside.

Bike rental costs 2500 pesos per day. They do charge late fees for every 30 minutes you arrive late, after 7:30pm.

You have the option to simply rent the bicycle for the day and go wherever you want, or choose a program. They have several pre-planned programs that include wine tastings, alfajor pairings, and olive oil tastings. Each is at a different cost, and you have the option to include lunch. Check out the programs listed below.

If you choose to do a specific package, the Wine & Ride representative will walk you through each step of the process. They will give you a map, highlight the path you should take, and how long you should stay at each location. You will be connected with them on WhatsApp in case of an emergency, and they will also provide you with a digital map. Everything is incredibly organized and made simple. The people working there were incredibly kind.

I selected the Salta program, which included 7 stops: Bodegon Lopez, Baco & Friends, Bodega Cecchin, Bodega Esencia, Bodega Trivento, Il Mercato, and La Vinoteca.

What is it like to Wine & Ride around Maipu?

The truth is that the bicycles from Wine & Ride are not in the best shape. They are heavy and the kickstand on my bike didn’t work. I couldn’t use it while parking my bike and needed to find something to lean it on. While I was riding, the pedal kept hitting it, so I had a constant ‘ding, ding’ while I rode.

The roads are mostly flat, but there are some that are very slightly uphill. Because the bikes are heavy and have no gears, this becomes more difficult than you might think. There are also a few dirt roads you need to bike down, which slows you down further and provides for a pretty bumpy ride. I went on a hot day in November, and it was very hot and sweaty. You are required to wear a helmet.

While the riding becomes more peaceful as you reach bodegas further out, the riding in the city center is hectic and chaotic. There was a lot of construction in the street. The main road is narrow and cars honk at you.

As I was cycling alone in the countryside, a city worker pulled over in his car to tell me to be careful, the area is dangerous, and I’ll probably get robbed. So that didn’t do much to ease the stress. I asked the guys at Wine & Ride about this, and they told me that happens a lot to tourists. They said much further out along one of the highways it could become dangerous, but it is not dangerous in the areas they send us.

Wine & Ride does not give you a bike lock, but you are responsible to pay for it if it gets stolen. However, the bike felt pretty safe in every location I went to, as they were closed in and private. The only spot that was more public was Il Mercato.

Mendoza Wine & Ride

What was the Mendoza Wine & Ride tour like (for me)?

As I mentioned above, I did the Salta program. It included 7 stops: Bodegas Lopez, Baco & Friends, Bodega Cecchin, Bodega Esencia, Bodega Trivento, Il Mercato, and La Vinoteca.

Before going on the tour, a worker at Wine & Ride will provide you with a map, a wristband, and several coupons to use on your journey. They give you a ton of information. So much information that by the time you get to each location, you forget what you were supposed to be doing there. They also explain to you the approximate timing you should spend at each location. However, I found the timing to be inaccurate.

Because this is Argentina, everything is done very slowly, so it is easy to get behind in your timeframe. After 3 stops, I realized how overly ambitious the Salta program felt. Perhaps on a cooler day with a better bicycle, things could have been different.

The bar at Bodegon Lopez- where they give you a can of sweet white wine.

This is how my day went:

Bodegas Lopez

Suggested time: Doesn’t say
Actual time spent: 15 minutes

This is meant to be a quick stop. You just go here to get a can of sweet Mendoza white wine. That’s it. The wine, in my opinion, was way too sweet. I could only have a few sips before I had to throw it away. There are a few chairs inside at the bar, or you can drink the can outside in the parking lot. It very much felt like a ‘to go’ situation so I ended up drinking in the sunny parking lot. This is a stop I could have skipped.

Baco & Friends

Suggested time: Doesn’t say
Actual time spent: 10 minutes

This is a tiny corner shop where you stop in for a small glass of red wine. There are a few tables outside. It was a quick, simple stop along the Mendoza wine trail.

Bodega Cecchin

Suggested time: 30-45 minutes
Actual time spent: 80 minutes

This stop is down a dirt road. The purpose is for a visit and a tasting. The visit and explanation of the vineyard and wine was only in Spanish. They offered several tastings at the end of both red and white wines. The program suggested I arrive at 12:45 and stay until about 1:15, in order to have lunch at the next stop by 1:30pm. However, the visit and tasting lasted until after 2pm. I was very hungry and it was quite difficult for me to continue drinking Mendoza wine on an empty stomach.

Bodega Esencia

Suggested time: 50 minutes
Actual time spent: 120 minutes

You’ll bike nearly 2km to reach Bodega Esencia after leaving Bodega Cecchin. It was on the route that a city worker pulled over to tell me I will probably get robbed. I was completely alone on an empty street, so this made me very uncomfortable. The Bodega Esencia was very beautiful. It is in the country and the vines go on for ages. The food was also incredible. Super delicious.

That said, it all felt very disorganized. At Wine & Ride, I was asked to select what I wanted for lunch in advance. In theory, Esencia should know what I’m having. However, when I arrived, they gave me the opposite of everything I had ordered. A meat empanada instead of a vegetarian one. They no longer had the veal dish I had ordered, and got raviolis instead. They were still delicious, but it’s worth noting that selecting food in advance made no difference. You are given 3 different wines to try during your lunch. The waiter and waitress working were fantastic. Unfortunately the music was not. In between Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran, there was hardcore dance music playing loudly on the speakers. The truth is that it made it hard to enjoy the scenery with this awful, loud music.

I was asked by two different people if I wanted to do the lunch or the tasting first. Once when I first arrived, and once as I was sitting at the table waiting for lunch. It felt that nobody communicated. Once I finished eating, I drank the last of my wine outside looking at the vineyards. The tasting was meant to be next, but it was very slow to get started. The guide took us to the vineyards a bit, then downstairs into the cellar where we tried several more wines and alfajores. Then we came back up where they encouraged us to buy the wine and alfajores.

According to the schedule, I should have left by 2:40 to head to the next bodega, but I didn’t leave until nearly 4:30 because everything at this bodega was quite slow and disorganized.

Bodega Trivento

Suggested time: 60 minutes
Actual time spent: I didn’t go

All the traveling between locations took much longer and were much further than it would appear on the map. Unfortunately my phone died, so later when I could check my messages, I saw that Wine & Ride had messaged me because Trivento had messaged saying I never showed up. But this was at 3:30pm. I was still at Esencia at 3:30pm. In theory I was supposed to arrive to Trivento by 3pm, but I wouldn’t have made it there until 5pm. I worried that if I went to Trivento now, I would arrive at 5, leave by 6, and wouldn’t make it back in time because of the long distances.

Il Mercato

Suggested time: Doesn’t say
Actual time spent: 10 minutes

This is a market with several restaurants inside. By the time I arrived it was getting later and the market was very quiet. I knew there was something I was supposed to receive in the market, but I couldn’t figure it out. I went to a couple different restaurants to ask if they knew about Wine & Ride to try to solve the mystery.

My phone was dead so I also could not contact Wine & Ride directly to ask them. The second restaurant I went to told me they do work with Wine & Ride but they didn’t receive my name, and I didn’t have a coupon for them, so nothing. In the chaos of the paper map and highlighter markings, I didn’t see there was a note that said “ice cream tasting in Inamorato, tasting in Pirca Brewery, tasting at Entre Dos Alfajores.” In the end, all I did was walk around the market and leave.

La Vinoteca

Suggested time: Doesn’t say
Actual time spent: I didn’t go

The truth is, I didn’t go because I was fed up. It was now nearly 6pm. Back in the city center, the roads were awful, lots of traffic. I couldn’t handle any more wine. I was frustrated that now my phone was dead and I had to rely on a not-to-scale paper map. I couldn’t contact anyone. I felt uncomfortable with the city worker telling me I would get robbed. It was hot. My brain was tired of having to do everything in Spanish all day, knowing I was missing several important details. I was frustrated that a lot of the places felt disorganized and everything took a long time. I just wanted to leave.

Would I do the Mendoza Wine & Ride again?

Maybe. If I did, I would only rent the bike, and pay for tastings as I go. Because I paid for everything in advance, I felt like I wasted money. I didn’t go to Trivento, I didn’t go to La Vinoteca, I didn’t get anything from Il Mercato. I would have preferred to go at my own pace, stop at wineries of my choosing, and pay only for tastings I wanted to do. In some cases I was just drinking wine because it was included, not because I wanted to (here’s looking at you sweet white canned wine from Bodegas Lopez). I do not recommend doing a package tour because the timing is pretty unrealistic and overly ambitious.

Also, if I didn’t have a set schedule, I would have felt more relaxed at places like Bodega Cecchin and Bodega Esencia as everything took so long at each location.

I was by myself. I think my experience would have improved drastically if I were in a group. Being alone on quiet streets after being warned I would probably get robbed did not do much to make my solo experience feel great.

I was also in a bad mood because my brand new phone shut off while at 85% and wouldn’t turn back on the rest of the day, meaning I could not take any photos or create a video like I had planned. This also affected my experience of biking. The hot sunny day and low quality bikes did not do much to help out my mood.

If I were to do it again, I think I would have preferred to do an organized group trip that drives you around from place to place. That way you are not hot and sweaty when you arrive, craving water not wine. You have the opportunity to meet people and you can socialize, and relax a bit more, knowing you will be driven safely to the next location.

However you decide to go, I wish you the best time!


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