Cheers “To overlander-life and new adventures!”
Together with Melanie and Sebastian we got Cafayate, and went to a campground in the outskirts of Cafayate. Here we met other overlanders, and together we visited one of the local wineries called “Las Nubes” (the upper pictures). Spending time and sharing experiences with other overlanders are fun. The wine made everybody talk even more.
Las Nubes is located at 1850 meters above sea level, it has has two hectares of plantations, each with 5000 wine stocks
At Las Nubes we really got to enjoy the wine in harmony with the nature, and together with the wine we felt so relaxed – we really like the white wines made from the torrontés grapes. Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and mouthfeel as well as distinctive peach and apricot aromas on the nose. There are three Torrontés varieties: Torrontés Riojano, the most common, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torront%C3%A9s). The Torrontés are planted in +1700 meters, in the Calchaquíes Valley, where they have the best conditions.
Back in Cafayate we visited one of the Bodegas in town, El Porvenir. This winery is owned by the family, Romero Marcuzzi, who started his first winery in Tolombón a few kilometers south of Cafayate. In the late nineties the family acquired a hundred-year-old winery located in the center of Cafayate, to which they updated in infrastructure and technology, restoring old vineyards of Torrontés, Malbec and Tannat with great success.
First we went on a short tour, and then it was time for wine tasting. We had a great time there, but the wines (especially the red wine) was just not our taste.
After the visit at El Porvenir we went for a walk in the streets of Cafayate. Buying a snack – grilled cheese bread!
After the snack we have on the hunt for the best empanadas in town
They were so good! Really like the local atmosphere at the place
If we didn’t do wine tasting or eating empanadas, we were at the campground BBQ’ing and drinking wine with the other overlanders
Buying meat here in Argentina is so cheap. Here we can buy 1 kg of tenderloin for 300 arg. pesos (8 USD or 55 DDK). In Denmark we pay about 300 DDK, which is 1670 arg. pesos or 45 USD. If you go to the butcher here “Carniceria” ask for “filet”, “lomo” or “ojo de lomo”, the cuts are just amazing here in Argentina. Sebastian is getting the eat ready, and making sure that the local dog get the leftovers.
The guys by the grill and Melanie with a perfect “snobrød” (Danish twisted bread)
Cafayate also have a great and modern wine museum, which is worth a visit
Different grapes are grown in different elevation. The highest elevation is 3015 meters in Payogasta, and the lowest is 1600 meters in Las Conchas, Cafayate. The valley is called Calchaquí, which represents the highest wine yards in the world. To comparison the famous wines of Mendoza, Argentina is grown in 700-1400 meters. The soil of the Cafayate Valley is sandy with 40-50% stone at the foot of the mountain. The quality of the soil is poor, but it creates high quality of wine. The big difference in temperature between night and day (38 Celsius during the day to 12 Celsius during the night) is an exceptional condition for the superior quality of the wine stocks. With 340 sunny days per year, and only 80-180 mm of rain per year, irrigation canals have been built to lead the water from the mountains to the fields of wine stocks. The result is small-grained grapes with an enormous concentration of aromas and flavors.
12 different kinds of grapes are grown in this wine region. 8 red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tempranillo, Tannat, Bonarda, Surah and Malbec. 4 White grapes: Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin.
Making the best wine takes a lot of effort, and continues year around. In April when the fruit collection ends and just before the leaves fall, the vigour of each plant is revised. In May-June the non-efficient wine stocks of the year before are taken out, only the stalks necessary for each plant are left. This defines the shape and productivity wanted for each wine stock during the next cycle. In July pruning of the wine stocks begins, which is carried out the rest of the year. The pruning limits the amount of grapes per plant, and it is possible t estimate kg grapes per Ha to be harvested. In August-September the wine stocks will be tied up, while watering and caring for the soil also takes place (this continues until harvest). In October weeds are removed, and the soil are being stirred and aired to improve the growth of new roots. Also a new round of pruning is necessary to insure the success of the harvest. In November the workers enable an appropriate distribution of grape clusters on the wine stocks, so that each of them is able to obtain the necessary amount of sunlight. The result is a efficient production of sugar, color and aroma in the grapes. In December the wine stocks are blooming, and the workers will take care of the soil and being busy tying up the wine to discipline its growth. In January the workers will clip the stocks, just above the highest threads, to let the vine stocks keep its vigour for the grapes. Pruning continues so nothing is covering the grape clusters, and the first clearing of clusters takes place leaving only those specially selected to make the wine. In February the controlled irrigation will let the grape clusters reach their fullest expression. The care and daily vigilance of the vineyards continues to be indispensable. In March the grapes are ready to be harvested. The best wines come from the hand picked grapes, which makes it to the press with their delicate skin intact.
We had an amazing time in Cafayate with all the other overlanders, but but here we would go our separate way. We have started the last piece of our journey in South America, and the countdown for when we are going home to Denmark has started. It is time to fix up the van and up it up for sale, as we are still traveling on the road, getting a few more adventures before flying back to Denmark. Coming up is more wine tasting in Mendoza, but first a detour to Cordoba in the hunt for more flamingoes.