I

In order to make the best wine, the grape has to struggle, poor thing. I spent the weekend in wine country, toured multiple wineries, talked about tannins and aromas and mouthfeel, and was reminded that we’re all grapes on vines. Every grapevine is watered liberally for a couple months. They grow and thrive and are happy little grapes. Then, the watered is slowed drastically so that the vines are forced to struggle. The struggle actually increases the sweetness of the fruit. It creates more complexity and a deeper flavor. Can’t we all relate to this? Isn’t this our hope for our lives and those we love and those we don’t know? We want the struggles of our lives to lead to a deeper, richer, sweeter fruit than would’ve been there before.

II

Mendoza was beautiful. The scenery reminded me of Italian wine country with the straight, skinny trees and the vineyards. It was hot, but it was dry. The sun deepened our tans and overheated our van, but it was manageable. We sat by the pool in the day and left the windows open at night.

Mendoza was smaller than Buenos Aires, and it felt older, but the trees were the same. They lined the roads and grew tall and green. I wonder how much struggle they’ve had in their lives.

III

Our tour included:

Bodegas Lopez – wine – 5/10

Things to note: This was a pretty large winery, and a lot of people thought our tour guide was dreamy…otherwise, not much to report.

Pasrai – olive oil! – 8/10

Things to note: They were growing kumquats in their garden! Also, olives are delicious.

Cavas de Don Arturo – wine – 3/10

Things to note: I wasn’t too impressed with their wine,  but it was nice to visit a smaller vineyard.

Bodega Salentein – vino – 8/10

Things to note: A few times a year, they hold classical concerts in their barrel room. Also, their vines have American roots grafted onto European plants. I have no idea how that actually works, but I find it ironically poetic.

Zuccardi Valle de Uco – wine (also, can i mention how elegant of a user experience it is to ask for your age and, subtly, your language at the same time on their website) – 8/10

Things to note: The architect tried to mimic the surrounding landscape with the building. The angles are tilted; the windows aren’t square; the walkway to the front door shifts like a river. I love details like that.

III

I should’ve gone to Francis Mallman’s restaurant, 1884, with a smaller group. I could’ve savored it and taken my time. Instead, it was a blur of plates and hands and forks and missed dishes and a really expensive bill. The thing I was most looking forward to turned out to the be the least impressive part of the trip. I’ve had food that was equally as good for half the price. It was a beautiful place and quite the journey to get there once we realized Google Maps had led us astray and the restaurant was actually just outside of the city. At least I can say I’ve been there, but I think I’d rather visit his rustic cabin in Patagonia and prepare a meal with him over the fire. Now, those are foodie goals.

IV

My new friend Ali is wonderful. In true Argentinian fashion, she arrived dressed beautifully, in platform shoes, and ready to share all about her country. My trusty friend and photographer, Ashley, was with us, and we all had a great time making tarta de zapallitos. It’s like a quiche. For dessert, we had chocotorta (sorry, no pic yet) and wine and talked about what we want out of life and how travel fits into it all. With two Little Spoons under my belt, I’m feeling pretty good about things as I prepare to transition to Lima.

V

So for you and me, I pray we’re like grapes. I pray the periods of struggle in our lives produce sweeter fruit than we could ever imagine.

Comment below and let me know what type of wine you think you are. Malbec? Rose? Pinot Gris? Port? I wanna know.

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