A Little Wine in the Countryside: Mendoza (Lujan de Cuyo)

Feeling a bit burnt out from visiting cities, we decided to rent a cabin in Lujan de Cuyo –a tranquil town just outside of Mendoza. We came for some relaxation and some great wine and we got just that. I have never been a wine snob at all and in fact before visiting Mendoza knew very little about the whole topic. Visiting the wineries in the area was a terrific experience and gave me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work and dedication that goes into a good bottle.

After a 45-minute bus ride from Mendoza we arrived at our quaint cabin and were greeted by our friendly host who showed us around. It had a great terrace where we could watch the sunset, gorgeous views of the Andes and adorable llamas that roamed the property. The place was also conveniently located near a few minimarkets and the bus station. Getting around Lujan to the town center and wineries was fairly easy as the buses ran very efficiently. Also, cooking at “home” saved us some money.

Fantastic regional wines of Mendoza
Fantastic regional wines
Sunsets on the terrace
Sunsets on the terrace
Animals on the property of our cabin
Animals on the property
Friendly dog at our cabin
Our other friend came for a visit

The Monday we arrived most of the wineries were closed but the next day it was time to explore! I highly recommend you make reservations before visiting the wineries. I would also suggest you forego the pricey organized wine tours offered around town if you are on a backpackers budget like we are. Getting to the bodegas on the city bus was easy and cheap.

Local bus schedule in Mendoza (Nov. 2015)
Local bus schedule (Nov. 2015)

We decided to visit Kaiken winery at the last-minute and luckily were able to get a tour. The property was stunning and relaxing with a vineyard that stretched for what seemed like miles. Our guide was knowledgeable and explained the process they use for making their wine, even showing us the cellar where they play music to keep the wine happy. I had never heard of such a thing but if that’s what it takes to get a great product like the one they have, I’m on board.

Wine cellar at Kaiken Winery
Wine cellar at Kaiken
Perfect afternoon at Kaiken winery
Perfect afternoon at the winery

We paid 100 Argentinian Pesos for the tour and wine tasting which included a generous pour of three different wines (including a mouth-watering syrah that has become my new favorite red). During the tour we met a group of Americans who were celebrating a birthday and ordered the pricey and incredibly silky-smooth Mai wine, which they kindly shared with us. They later invited us to their place for food and even more delicious wine. Ahh- the backpackers life is so hard…

Wine tasting and meeting new folks at Kaiken
Wine tasting and meeting new folks
 He loved the malbec
He loved the malbec
I clearly loved them all! Wines at Kaiken
I clearly loved them all!

 The next bodega we visited was Vistalba. We showed up last-minute as usual but thankfully they let us in. This winery is quite popular so try to reserve this one in advanced as well. We paid 110 ARS for the tour and tasting. Our guide walked us through their vineyards while explaining the different types of grapes found on the property, she gave us a great insight into the process for making their sparkling wines and we were even able to enjoy a tasting of their olive oil made on site. Their wines were delectable especially their Malbec and their sparkling wine Progenie II (so good we took some bottles with us).

Free food and more wine!
Free food and more wine!
Vineyards at Vistalba
Vineyards at Vistalba
Vistalba tour
Vistalba tour
Gorgeous entrance to the cellar
Gorgeous entrance to the cellar
A long wait for the good stuff. Wine Barrels at Vistalba
A long wait for the good stuff
Cheers love! Wine tasting at Vistalba
Cheers love!

Our whole experience in Lujan was outstanding. It is a great place to relax and be present and in the moment. The afternoon sunsets are hard to beat, locals are extremely friendly, life is lived simply and at a slower pace and the wine is phenomenal. Now, whenever I pick up a bottle from this region I will always remember the tastes and sights of this special and enchanting place.

Craft fair in the city center
Craft fair in the city center

Quick tips:

  • At the Mendoza bus station look for Buttini bus company, they will take you into Lujan de Cuyo
  • Get a bus card at the station or from a local (the buses do not take cash, although most locals will be happy to help)
  • If you have more time check out wineries in Maipu as well
  • Siesta is usually from 1:30pm- 5:00pm. Plan accordingly when obtaining food (most wineries remain open during this time)