What do you think of when you hear the word “Malbec?”
I’m guessing first is probably “wine,” but for many, a close second would be “Mendoza.”
This was one of the biggest draws for me to visit the city – aside from the opportunity to see my friend, Adam, of course.
Malbec and I have had a long, flirtatious relationship dating back to when I was in college. I never could give it my full heart – that belongs to California Cabs – but it remains a steady fixture in my table wine rotation. So you can imagine my anticipation and excitement at the thought of visiting wineries in the Mendoza region. I had heard tales about how great they were, and I was itching to experience the wine culture in the Southern Hemisphere. Thankfully, Adam had a handful of recommendations for vineyards that we could visit.
None of them included Trapiche.
To be fair, he hadn’t actually been to Trapiche. The label is so common in the United States that we initially focused on discovering lesser-known vineyards (Trapiche is Argentina’s largest exported premium wine brand). Plus, I had been to major wineries in the U.S. and they always felt herded and touristy – not the intimate experience you would expect from a wine tasting.
What changed our minds was when one of Adam’s English students offered to host us at Trapiche, where he is a guide, in exchange for us helping him hone his English-language tour at the vineyard.
Free tour and wine tasting with a familiar face where we get to speak our native tongue? Count us in!
But first we had to get there.
We made our way to the winery on the morning of our visit. The city bus dropped us off at the last stop – a gas station – and we found ourselves stranded with no access to taxis or transportation for the final six kilometers to the vineyard.
Pro tip: plan your route in advance! (To be fair, Adam had planned it, but we got on the wrong bus.)
After exhausting all other options and resigning ourselves to walking the rest of the way (an hour-long walk), a kind truck driver from the gas station offered to shuttle us to the vineyard. We gladly accepted.
On the bright side, at least I can scratch “hitchhiking” off of my bucket list.
When we finally arrived, we were greeted by a large, refurbished Florentine-style estate rising up from the surrounding vineyards.
We met up with Nahuel and began the tour.
He showed us around the estate, including the railroad tracks in the back where the original owners would load wine directly onto railcars after production was complete. How convenient!
Nahuel then walked us through the building and filled us in on the history of Trapiche. It turns out Trapiche has been in operation for over 130 years and was one of Argentina’s first wineries to enter international competitions and export their wines.
The best room: the one where we could tap into the wine tanks to taste the fresh wine!
The tour couldn’t finish until we were introduced to Trapiche’s two resident llamas. After some games of cat-and-mouse, I was able to get close enough to pet one of them without getting spit on! Score!
While outside, Nahuel told us about the winery’s increasing focus on biodynamic practices for viticulture (grape growing). This practice eliminates the use of herbicides, fungicides, and chemicals, and accounts for planetary alignment and moon phases during cultivation. The winery is taking steps to become self-sustaining, including raising cattle that provide manure to fertilize the fields.
After about 45 minutes, we sat down for the tasting. Nahuel picked out handful of wines for us to try, including some premium aged wines that were genuinely out of this world.
We stepped onto the deck to sip our wine and enjoy the views of endless olive trees and mountains. There was a chill in the air – October is still early spring in Argentina – but I could have stood out there all day.
After polishing off two bottles of wine with some travelers from the U.K., the Netherlands and Russia, we made our way back to the city. I rode back on the (correct) bus with a foggy head and full heart, realizing that my expectations for this day had been completely shattered in the best way possible. If you get a chance, go to Trapiche. You won’t be disappointed!
Planning Your Visit to Trapiche
- Location: Nueva Mayorga s/n (M5522CHA), Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina
- Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 am–5:00 pm. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 10:00 am-3:00 pm
- Tours can be booked through Trapiche’s website.
- Getting there: I would recommend taking a taxi or hiring a driver. There is a bus that drops off around the corner from the winery, but to eliminate all room for error, just arrange your own ride.
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