(Tipsy) Memories of Mendoza

Ready for a glass or two

Note to readers: This blog post has been finalized and posted from quarantine during 2020 Covid –19 outbreak. Stay home & stay well!

I totally love my life this very moment. It must be the combined effect of an extended wine tasting and delicious picnic lunch with more freely flowing wine and freshly baked empanadas in the beautifully groomed gardens of Alta Vista winery. Oh, and what divine, chilled desert: an explosion of colors and tastes.

Macaroons on a whole different level

There is a huge horde of green parrots making a ruckus in the tops of the trees, a collection of grand specimens of special trees: oak, linden, araucaria, larch. Flanked by ancient gnarled olive trees

Olive tree bark always fascinating

and a border of flowering lavender, it is a cool oasis with a nice breeze in otherwise hot, hot, hot Mendoza. Mighty glaciers glimmer white in the distance watching over rows of Malbec vines.

Snow covered peaks in the distance

All we need now is a hammock or at least a blanket to take a siesta.

Just had to ad a new Panama hat to the collection.

With so many wineries and so little time, (how is there always too little time?), how does one choose? The classic, the modern, the oldest, the biggest, or the boutique?

Glass on glass tasting room

Well, our first choice is simple; Alta Vista speaks to us on a very personal level. We have been making our home for the last twenty years at Alta Vista in Orinda, California.

Our home on Alta Vista

I am not a wine connoisseur by no means. I am not a sophisticated drinker, and I am far from a wine snob, but I have enough drinking years under my belt to know what I like and what I don’t like. No buttery Chardonnay. No tannins in reds. No barrique oaky taste. I am a flower power girl. I am a Zin Girl and also a Malbec Maiden. Give me fruity, give me smooth, give me blackberry or chocolate undertones anytime.

Alta Vista winery Alto

Mendoza with its celebrated Malbec grapes

First hints of Fall

was anticipated with much excitement from my side. With Argentinian wines attractively priced and Argentine peso low on the exchange market I could anticipate to afford drinking some excellent wines. On our last visit to California we were blown away by how expensive the wine has become. What I paid there for a glass, I could get in a full bottle of excellent wine. And believe you me, with my husband a dedicated beer drinker and hence dedicated wine tasting driver, I indeed managed to down a few bottles solo!

Top of the line

Here the ritual of wine tasting by itself is also not a money making machine as it has become in California, but a friendly introduction and fun time spent in the cellar,

the winery, and the vineyard. For years I had a privilege to help in my friends Captain vineyard, so I certainly appreciate what hard work it is to produce a bottle of wine, especially in a small winery, where everything is done by hand.

Harvesting grapes at the Captains many years back

Besides tasting wine, visiting wineries for us has a second benefit – interesting architecture. Whether it be old

Clos the Chacras from 1921
Clos de Chacras ivy tower

or ultra modern

Solo Con Tigo entrance
Salentein courtyard

Where there is money there is also art to stimulate your other senses.

Where there is art and wine there invariably are interesting people. Be it people in the know

A chat in The Vines Winery and Resort

or people seeking new knowledge and experiences.

Wine tasting at Solo Con Tigo

Sometimes new knowledge is based on theory

54 smells and tastes of wine

and sometimes of more practical nature

Another thing we both really enjoy very much is label design. Human creativity is indeed divine and infinite. I so envy people who can take a blank page and create something new. And they are not intimidated that millions of wine labels have already been created.

How sweet is this Rosé label?

How cool is this 3D Cab lock?

I insisted we time our trip to Mendoza to coincide with the Harvest festival Vendimia. I like traditional festivals, I like costumes and ceremony. I read about Vendimia and it sounded so attractive. I even asked our friendly Airbnb host to buy me a ticket months in advance.

Street advertisement for Vendimia

Alas, just like Brazilian Carnival this festival did not turn out to be what we anticipated. Just like carnival it brings in tons of visitors and makes a traffic mess. And as usual in these areas, information is hard to come by. And much of it is garnished with “maybe”. Like in: The procession will go down San Martin Avenue, maybe. As we were wandering down empty dark streets

trying to find the big fete, we were gratified to see we were not the only ones lost.

Some lost gauchos

Like for the carnival the locals really don’t care for Vendimia and actually avoid it at all cost.

Except those locals whose streets have been closed down for the nightly procession.

It starts very traditional with Mary, Queen of Heaven, but quickly turns modern with trucks, floats, strobe lights, electronic music, and the queens of earthly domains.

And aspiring princesses, too.

And former queens, too!

Still have the moves, ladies!

At the end I never used my ticket for the big gala at the stadium where the Vendimia Queen is chosen.

Contestants

On our last evening in Mendoza after an hour driving in circles, trying to get to the stadium and find parking, we gave up and drove back home. There is always consolation to be found in a bottle of good Malbec wine. Will toast whomever was the winner. Cheers!

19 thoughts on “(Tipsy) Memories of Mendoza

  1. I can read the blog but not comment as it says the page cannot be found. Love it especially the desert and the rose Malbec.

    Hugs

    Jenni Lipa Jennilipa@gmail.com +1 917 721 8558 +66 899081027

    Sent from my IPhone

    >

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  2. So lovely to read about your adventures! Especially now, when armchair travel is all that’s possible… Love the arial view at Solo con Tigo, and how fun that you were at Alta Vista — while so far from home!

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  3. You can get some of the Alta Vista wines locally in the Bay Area,,,some are expensive…$75 but some are in the $15-20 range…salud

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  4. Always pleasant to reminisce and re-live good memories. There will be quite a bit of this going on as we experience lock-down wherever. Enjoy.
    Dorothy

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  5. Hello there from a locked down Fergy in a spookily deserted London.

    Another great read and I am with Dorothy on this one. I wonder how the traffic graphs on blog sites have spiked since everyone is stuck indoors either writing them, reading them or both. I know I have been gorging on blogs (and old TV series) for the last three weeks. Still, it is making me productive and I am catching up on a lot of old stuff I have been wanting to transfer from another sadly closed website. Every cloud…………

    I have long wanted to go back to South America and I really must do it when all this nonsense is over. I do love your photography, one or both of you really has “the eye”. I love the image of the pink building where you have positioned the sun so cleverly. The little tease of your “home” looks beautiful, you people certainly know how to live!

    Stay safe.

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    1. Dear Fergy, I love to read your ramblings even in a shortened version such as a humble comment. It is said interned has been slowed down and the video quality diminished which with the old shows can’t matter much anyhow. 😉 Thank you for your photography comment, most intriguing photos are likely by chance or mistake. One of us does like to play with editing and filters. And it does help to have the latest iPhone, the quality of lenses has improved so much, especially the wide angle that I love to us for architecture and landscape. Keep up your positive spirit!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Looove the photos-especially of the first part of the blog!
    And love love love the comments about the design of the labels! Super cool how u 2 found the Winery w the same name as the street you lived on. Cool!
    Ksenija: the photo of u with the grapes: sooo gorgeous! U look so relaxed, so natural, so calm, so easygoing and simple. It has a special vibe. Love it.
    And who eve described its wine taste: it was as if I was describing mine! Cheers!!
    That blog wants me to go and fly to Argentina tomorrow!!

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  7. Hi Ksenija,

    I have been swamped. Today is the first day in a while that I can get to emails. This one was enticing.

    When this is over I want to travel, travel, travel!

    Love, Gail

    Like

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