One of our tours included a short drive outside Mendoza to visit the Bodega y Cavas de Weinert (Weinert Winery). This winery was first built in 1890 but was then abandoned in 1940. However, in 1975 it was purchased and revitalized by Bernardo Weinert, born in a German colony in southern Brazil. He was able to introduce new grape varieties and techniques to produce very high quality wines, especially Malbec.
We had a very interesting tour through their whole operation, including into their storage sheds with old bamboo roofs and their cool cellars 7-m (22-feet) underground. Here, Sue is posing in front of a huge 292 litre cask built in 1940 of French Oak. Naturally, we had to have a little sampling at the end of the tour and we both purchased a bottle to enjoy at our leisure!
The friendly people of Mendoza seem to enjoy their numerous sidewalk cafes and restaurants, and who can blame them on endless sunny summer days!
At noon and into the early afternoon we saw many groups sitting at tables just having a cold beer or wine as they talked. Beer generally comes in large bottles in Argentina, although small and mid-sized bottles are also available. I found that, sitting in the heat, it made much more sense to just go with a large (almost 1 litre) bottle. The cost was usually about A$5 (US$1.80).
Maybe this helps them along with their afternoon siesta between 1-5 PM when many of the shops close!
Even when the Spanish first arrived in Mendoza from Chile in 1561, they found an extensive irrigation system developed by the local Huarpe people. This large group of native Americans had realized that, since it rarely rains in Mendoza, they could take advantage of the large snow-melt run-off from the Andes mountains if they organized an irrigation system.
Recognizing a good thing when they saw it, the Spanish further adapted the system, allowing this desert region to sprout with vegetation. Their introduction of various grape varieties led to the development of Argentina's burgeoning wine industry.
The city of Mendoza is characterised by large ditches along both sides of most of it's streets, to funnel any water to where it is most needed. There are also major concrete storm channels passing through the city, sometimes marking the boundary of one area from another. Even though it was mid-summer when we were there, we saw one of these big channels flowing madly with water from somewhere!
Although the Mendoza area does not get much rain, it is famous for some of the biggest summer hailstorms in the world. And these are not just garden variety storms, the hail-stones can be the size of golf-balls and sometimes reach baseball-size!
Never mind the damage that these storms can do to people and cars, the economic damage has, in the past, proved to be devastating to the wine industry. Hail stones of that size can ruin a vinyard in no time flat. As a result, many vinyards, especially in southern Mendoza Province, have erected hail barriers above the crops. Since this province has over 2000 wineries and produces 80% of the Argentine production, the chance of damage is is not something to be taken lightly! We came across this (distant) example of a barrier not far outside the city as we began our drive southward before swinging west for the Andes. One of the problems with bus tours is that you cannot stop to get a photo every time you see something of interest.
This is a good hotel, clean, friendly and well located. Staff are helpful.more
Hipolito Yrigoyen 774, San Rafael, 5600, Argentina
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples
Ruta 7 Km 1141 / 1142, Uspallata, 5545, Argentina
Good for: Families