The saga of my leaky butthole was covered extensively in part 1. This will focus exclusively on the wine tour. If you’re looking for shit related humor see part 1.
Oscar the Tour Guide
First impressions mean everything and my first impression with Oscar was about as bad as it could be. He started out as such a charming, well-meaning your guide trying to educate 3 gringos on Mendoza wine culture. He was knowledgeable, funny and patient with us, we gave him nothing to work with.
All 3 of us were operating on very little sleep and recovering from some late night Jameson shots. Oscar was forced to talk to himself the entire trip, as we chimed in with gems such as “cool”, “really?” “that’s so awesome” “that’s crazy”.
He reverted to telling us his life story for most of the trip there and that was fine with us because it meant we didn’t have to think at all. We spent about 9 hours with this man as he chauffeured us around Mendoza wine country and through the city, stopping at various local places that we would never have found otherwise and enlightened us with knowledge from his decades of living there.
I would rate him 4/5 because he got creepy towards the end of the day and kept talking about Christina’s boobs. Nobodys perfect.
Susana Balbo Winery
As we arrived at the first winery, our collective exhaustion disappeared. It was a picturesque oasis in the middle of the Mendoza desert, complete with chirping birds and perfect weather. I’m still in disbelief.
As we toured the winery, I realized Susana Balbo must have some horrible OCD. This winery was spotless. Maybe on Earth. There was not one thing out of place or speck of dirt to be found. It resembled Walter and Jessie’s underground meth lab.
The restaurant inside was equally immaculate and made me wish we had scheduled lunch there.
Our tasting was in the basement, in a cozy, comfortable room where we sampled 4 wines along with a Japanese family in town from Brazil. The dad spoke fluent English and since we were from Hawaii, we bonded with them instantly (Hawaii is basically Japan with nicer weather). Kanpai!
Of course I forgot to get a photo with them.
We were in good spirits after the first stop. This trip alone was worth the $140 we spent for the trip. And we still had another winery tour, tasting, and lunch to go. We didn’t expect much which made the next place all the more mind-blowing.
Belasco de Baquedano
The scenery and architecture at this place had a classic feel that stood in stark contrast to Susana’s OCD palace. Everything was huge, ornate, and rustic. It looked like it was being used, not put on display.
Christina accidentally booked the Spanish speaking wine tour so we didn’t understand what the tour guide was saying the entire time, so I made up my own explanations. Grapes go in, wine comes out. Not that difficult, no need to romanticize it.
The Smell Room
In order to train our pedestrian pallets before the tasting, they brought us to this room that had about 50 plastic canisters with various smells that emanate from wines. The smells ranged from sulfur to chocolate, and each station had a plaque that explained why the wine would have that aroma. It was one of the more unique, interesting things I’ve ever seen at a winery. And being hungover, it was quite possibly the worst experience I could have imagined. I learned a fair amount though, which I promptly forgot the second I left. Don’t try to teach me things when I’m 3 glasses deep.
Apologies, I’m a shit videographer
Where’s the “Cocaine” station?
After almost vomiting trapped in the smell prison, the doors mercifully opened and we headed to lunch upstairs. We were expecting empanadas and crackers with our tasting, what we got was much, much better.
Our view. Christina is always on her phone smh.
That view was just the start. The $140 dollars got us a 6-course meal that would’ve been probably $400 at a Michelin star restaurant in the states. Have I mentioned how much I love the exchange rate in Argentina? We also got wine pairings with each course. A full glass. Safe to say we were shithoused by the end of the meal.
That veal tenderloin up there was the best steak I’ve ever tasted. It melted in my mouth and I wanted to nap at the table. Unfortunately, that’s frowned upon in an establishment such as this, so we took a few photos on the veranda then tried not to pass out on our way back to Oscar’s car.
I’m still in disbelief at the cost vs. the quality of the tours, food, and service we received. It is an unbelievable deal that you cannot pass up if you’re in Mendoza.
Some words of wisdom, do not go hungover and do not eat super pancho dogs the night before. Trust me.
You can book the same tour through Viator here. We went all over Mendoza and this was by far the best experience we had. Do not pass it up.
Jamon Crudo Street Sandwiches
Oscar kept saying this was the “premium tour” so he wanted us to sample some real local cuisine. What better to follow up a 6-course meal than some post-meal ham sandwiches from a dirty roadside shack?
The prosciutto was OK, that was the only thing this place had going for it. The bread had probably been there for a week and I almost choked to death twice forcing it down. The olive oil ‘spread’ was somehow worse. I was trying to be polite but also thinking “none of them know the Heimlich maneuver” and I didn’t want to die at the hands of a ham sandwich. Thank God he had some homemade wine to wash it down, it was like prison toilet wine but at least it was liquid.
We’re polite white people in a strange land so we said they were delicious and ate them just so we could leave. The first attempt at what the locals eat was not successful.
How do you say, “This tastes like dog shit” in Spanish?
Links to the Wineries and Tour