We made the mistake of getting the wrong bus and getting off at the main plaza, Plaza 12 de Febrero, in Maipú proper – that’s 4.5km from all the bike rental places. Fun! What we should have done was hopped on any of the following buses from the centre of Mendoza – 171, 172 or 173 (on the corner of Catamarca and Rioja streets). You need to purchase a RedBus card from a kiosco or little shop which you then top up. The journey to Maipú takes about 30 minutes and costs ARS$4.50 (plus the ARS$15 cost of the card).
Once we finally arrived to Urquiza street in Maipú we located some bicycle rental shops. We eventually went with Maipú Bikes (just off the roundabout) as they offered the most professional service by far; i.e.tyres that weren’t bald and bikes with actual brakes. Luxury you know. We paid ARS$70 per person, Mr. Hugo’s wanted ARS$80 and they were quite rude, Orange Bikes across the road had a lovely owner but the bikes didn’t look too safe to us. The worst company was definitely Coco Bikes down the road from Mr. Hugos – they had the most unsafe looking bikes you can imagine. We met some people that went with Bikes and Wines and they weren’t too happy. You just have to shop around!
Maipú isn’t the most traditional wine region you can imagine, sure there are grapes but the wineries are located just off a very busy, dusty road that’s constantly buzzing with trucks and motorbikes. Definitely not a countryside retreat. I’m not really sure why it’s sold as such an amazing thing to do; it has nothing on Australia’s Hunter Valley in New South Wales or Margaret River in Western Australia. We had a nice enough few hours cycling around the place though. It’s what you make of it yourself I suppose. We started off at Bodega Domiciano. There’s an electric gate and staff who don’t much like opening it but once you’re in the staff are lovely. We actually decided against the wine tasting here (would have cost ARS$60) per person as we just weren’t feeling it so moved on to check out Entre Olivos which I had read good things about but was a little house with a room containing 2 tables with half filled shot glasses containing olive oil and some other tapenades (they wanted ARS$30 but wouldn’t include a tour). It honestly looked terrible so we backed off from there too. A little perplexed and dissapointed by the lack of awesomeness we’d expected, we decided to move on to the Museo del Vino (free entry) and finally which was so awesome we stayed for the entire afternoon! They make Rutini, San Felipe and Trumpeter and we tried the ARS$90 (per person) tasting and received 3 glasses each, all Trumpeter, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec (Mendoza’s claim to fame) and Merlot…all of which went down very well indeed! You can walk around the museum area (room) for as long as you wish and nobody will bother you. We only had time to bring the bikes back and hop on a bus back to Mendoza after our ‘cultural’museum trip. Honestly, I think a wine-induced-haze is the only reason people enjoy Maipú so much.
Next stop: Santiago, Chile (from Mendoza)