Before our trip to Mendoza, Argentina, I read a lot online about winery biking in Maipu. I learned there were a couple of places to rent bikes, a clearcut bike path, and several wineries in the area to visit.
All of these things were true.
I also read that Maipu was not so pretty, pseudo industrial, and possibly dangerous.
That also seemed to be true.
Maipu is about 25 minutes away from central Mendoza. You can take a city bus here or you can take an Uber. We took an Uber and it wasn’t very expensive although I can’t remember exactly how much it was.
However, we did have issues getting an Uber back to our place at the end of the day. The nice people at Maipu Bikes called us a taxi instead and it took about twenty minutes for it to come. We were enjoying Maipu Bikes’ free happy hour so we didn’t mind the wait.
There are two main bike rental companies in Maipu: Maipu Bikes and Mr. Hugo. They are pretty close to each other but everything I read online pointed toward Maipu Bikes being the better bet.
Their bikes were in okay shape. Brian’s pedal was broken but he didn’t notice until we were already underway. The helmets were pretty gross. I really didn’t want to put one on, but I also never bike without a helmet. So, I risked lice instead of my life.
The people at Maipu Bikes were very helpful and available on whatsapp for any questions we had ahead of time.
However, their credit card machine wasn’t working so we had to pay up front in cash which took most of our cash and made the rest of the day a bit trickier.
Before we set out, they gave us a detailed map, showing us where the wineries were, and how to get to them on our bikes. It even included details about the wineries’ hours, cost, and whether or not they offered food!
The map also showed which streets were “off limits”. The main street and the streets where the wineries are located are diligently patrolled by police to help protect the tourism industry. However, the roads that branch off of the main road can be dangerous and are not recommended for tourists.
Good to Know: Bring plenty of cash. Not all of the wineries take credit cards and ATMs are basically nowhere to be found in Maipu. They aren’t prolific like in the US.
The roads were flat and all of the wineries were within several miles of each other. Most of the route is along a single main road, which has a fair amount of traffic on it, driving around 35-45 miles per hour. It wasn’t particularly slow, but it wasn’t the highway either.
Although there is traffic, the main road has a bike lane almost the entire way. There are a few parts that do not which could be stressful for some people who aren’t used to riding bikes a lot.
So keep in mind that the physical aspect of the ride is easy (flat, not a long distance) but the mental aspect is slightly harrowing if you’re not super comfortable on a bike.
The road to bodega MEVI and Tempus Alba was pretty and tree-lined, but did not have a bike lane. That part was nice but not for the faint of heart if you can’t bear a car or bus passing you at speed every now and again.
We still had a ton of fun because we love biking (and wineries) but if you’re envisioning a bucolic ride through vineyards with dappled shade and a breeze on your cheeks, you will be disappointed. It’s more like commuting to work with full sun in your face and an occasional blast of exhaust fumes ruffling your hair. (But in this case “work” is at a winery and you get to hang out and drink, so +1000 points.)
There were seven wineries on the map:
- Casa de Campo
- La Rural
- Tempus Alba
- Vina El Cerno
We made it to three of them and an olive shop, in about five and a half hours.
We went to MEVI first and tasted some really good wines on the terrace overlooking their vineyards. We also enjoyed a snack of spinach and cheese empanadas. They let us pay with our credit card which was an added bonus.
I really enjoyed MEVI. It seemed neither too big and “corporate” nor too little and “homebrew” and their wines were really good.
Vina el Cerno
Next stop was a tiny little winery called Vina el Cerno. It’s easy to miss because it’s a low-slung, unassuming building that looks like a private residence.
Unfortunately this winery didn’t accept credit cards so we couldn’t afford a full tasting, just a couple of glasses of their least expensive wine since we were very low on cash. The setting was wonderful, colorful, and full of character. The wine was “okay”.
Our last winery was Tempus Alba. It’s the biggest of the three and had a full restaurant so we sat on the terrace and stuffed our faces with empanadas, a hamburger and a choripan. They gladly took our credit card so we had a full tasting of wine and a bonus glass to boot.
On our way back to the bike place we stopped at Entre Olivos, a shop marked on the map that makes olive oils, tapenades, and dulce de leche (a caramel spread that’s a favorite in Argentina). We sampled some wares and bought a few things.
Nothing really impressed us that much but the proprietor was very nice and we wanted to support his enterprise. I’m pretty sure Maipu Bikes gets a cut for including him on their map. But hey, that’s business.
Unlike the Uco Valley, we didn’t need reservations at any of the wineries and there were no formal tours, just a self-guided walking tour at Tempus Alba. The experience was very relaxed and reminded me a lot of visiting wineries in the Texas hill country.
If you find yourself with extra time in Mendoza, this is a worthwhile way to spend the day. However, if you have only one day to spend at wineries, I think Lujan de Cuyo is a nicer overall experience.