Argentina, Travel

Cafayate – The Other Argentine Wine Region

When you think of wine tasting in Argentina, I bet you think of Mendoza. No doubt Mendoza has some great wine and it does look beautiful, but there’s another up-and-coming wine region that shouldn’t be overlooked – Cafayate.

Given that Brice doesn’t really love wine, he was less enthused about going to Mendoza, which requires a flight from Buenos Aires, and spending a bunch of money on spendy hotels and wine tours for several days. There’s wasn’t much to get him more interested in all that.

So instead after some research and getting suckered by the marketing of massive billboards in Buenos Aires, we settled on a trip to Salta, in the northeastern part of the country. There’s incredible wine tasting, but also there’s hiking, colorful mountains and salt flats in a more colonial setting.

More Than Wine.

We rented a car for almost two weeks to do a roadtrip around the area.

The mountains surrounding the town and the green vines everywhere make for extra gorgeous views. It reminded me a lot of northern Arizona with lots of cactus and mountains in the backyard, but with good wine!

Our itinerary: Salta (2 nights) –> Cafayate (5 nights) –> Purmamarca (2 nights) –> Tilcara (2 nights). More on Salta and further north to Purmamarca and Tilcara in the next post.

View of the valley on the drive from Salta.

But The Wine.

Cafayate is especially known for growing Torrontes, a grape that makes really good aromatic white wine. At 5,000 feet in elevation, the high-altitude wine is crisp, slightly dry and nice for a hot day.

But they also produce some delicious Malbecs and Cabernets.

The wineries and town itself are quite a bit less built up than Mendoza, but I think that’s part of the charm. There are still quite a few excellent wineries to visit and great restaurants to eat at. You can bike around the town as well.

What Else to Do:

Tres Cruces, Amphitheater, Garganta del Diablo. Some really cool viewpoints you can do as a daytrip or on the drive to/from Salta. They only take about 5-15 minutes per stop but are nice and interesting sights. You can also walk from one to the other.

We read Quebrada los Flechas and Rio Colorado are amazing places for hiking but sadly weren’t able to visit because of issues with the roads and the locals, respectively. If they are open when you’re there, try to check them out!

Check out my next post for other things to do in the Salta area, like the AMAZING salt flats!

Where to Stay:

Grace Cafayate. Likely the most expensive place in Cafayate and a 10-minute drive from town, it’s worth the splurge and the drive. It’s a stunning hotel set right on a vineyard with awesome 2-story villas and incredible breakfasts, with farm fresh eggs to order and housemade breads, yogurts and chia puddings. There’s no gym included onsite but beautiful area to for runs or walks around the property.

Where to Eat:

Bodega Piatelli. Instead of or in addition to a typical wine tasting, opt for lunch at this stunning winery. The views of the vineyard from the patio are lovely and the wines are great. The service isn’t the most helpful in terms of teaching you about wine but it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Bad Brothers. A really cool wine bar and restaurant, with really knowledgeable staff and so many wines that you can get from the taster size, glass or bottle. Their food was also great with some of the best and most unique empanadas we had in Argentina. They also have a beautiful outdoor area.

Pacha. We had dinner there twice because it was so good. They’ve got an elegant back patio and really creative well executed food.

How to Get to Cafayate:

There are well-priced domestic flights to the Salta airport from Buenos Aires and other cities like Mendoza and Iguazu. From there, we rented a car and set out for the easy 3-4 hour drive south to Cafayate. There are also buses you can take if you don’t want to rent a car. More info on this blog.

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