There are a few personal moments which stick out above all. Today was another such day, as we travelled along highway 40, in the shadow of the Aconcagua, from Mendoza to Tunuyan. The memory list, surely overly romanticized by now, is becoming longer and longer:
- Galloping on horses without a saddle (only some sheepskins to protect your jewels), alongside a gaucho in Patagonia
- Visiting Coronel Suarez, a town in the middle of the rich pampa raising cattle, and seemingly stuck in the previous century (not necessarily a bad thing).
- Driving three days without seeing more than a few people, along highway 40 in the North this time, from Salta to Tucuman through the Valles Calchaquies, while chewing coca leaves to deal with the elevation.
- Having a gaucho-like, outdoors, wine-filled, barbecue (asado) at night, in the fields of La Florida.
Today we drove South from Mendoza to Tunuyan, through the Valle de Uco, filled with Malbec vineyards, and largely surrounded by deserts full of low scrubs and bushes, only to be broken up by rows of tall Alamo trees. In the background loom the snow covered mountains of the Andes.
The towns with wine are nothing like Napa or Sonoma with their mansions and manicured wine tasting rooms. Here many wineries are merely a small house next to the cellars, where you need an appointment in the weekend, as the hard working owners are resting. We did visit bigger wineries, like Bodega Salentein which are much like the big wineries of Northern California.
What made this uniquely memorable was not the wine, but the landscape. This land is vast and rough.
Capilla San Judas Tadeo
Gauchos in the rain on their way to El Manzano
Cristo del Manzano
Bodega Salentein - Panorama
I found a few pictures on the web to give a more sun filled idea of the area.
(source: Valle de Uco, Mendoza)
(source: Andres Casciani)