Argentina with Peter Bourne, The Wine Man

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates the difference between something great and something excellent, you’ll probably agree that, often, the key difference is passion.  We believe that to excel in any profession or craft requires a great love for what you do.

Argentinians are among the most passionate people in the world. At Lira Wine Experience, we truly admire and respect this kind of dedication and zeal, and this is what inspires and drives our team. We invite our guests to enjoy an authentic cultural experience in Argentina, and to appreciate the country’s passionate producers of food and wine.

 Those of us who know Peter would agree that he has earned the title ‘The Wine Man’ through dedication and a love for what he does. We are thrilled to have him join our host, Joaquin Medrano, as Lira’s special guest as they embark on an adventure across Argentina. Joaquin will guide our intimate group through his homeland, sharing local secrets, and demonstrating why Argentina’s wines have made a mark in the ‘New World’ of wine.

Journey itinerary, 2019

 

Day 1

Check-in at our beautiful accommodation in one of most trendy neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires. Settle in before joining your hosts for dinner and get to know your fellow travellers in this intimate group.

Day 2 

Today we explore Buenos Aires. First, we head to the famous Florida shopping street where you will have an opportunity to order a custom-made jacket made from the finest leather at our local friend’s and designers leather factory. Their passion shows in their personal attention to help you select a design you’ll love, and garments are made in their own factory. If leather jackets aren’t your ‘thing’, wander down Florida Street and take in all the sights and action. We come together again for a half-day city tour, taking in the major sights of Buenos Aires, including the Presidential Casa Rosada, history-rich San Telmo, and colourful La Boca. We finish the day with a spectacular Tango dinner and show.

 

Day 3

After breakfast we fly to Salta, in the north of the country, then we make our way to Cafayate on our private ground transport, passing through the stunning Quebrada de las Conchas (Gorge of seashells). We check-in to our accommodation, a colonial-style estancia where your mind will wonder through history. Make yourself at home and enjoy the mix of classical and modern additions in this captivating hotel, before we take a tour of the adjoining winery, El Esteco, and a taste of their wine. In the evening we enjoy a delicious dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.

Day 4

This day begins with an opportunity to explore the Calchaqui valley up close (take a hike or play the gaucho on a horse ride), or relax at the hotel (by the pool or in the day spa). We visit El Porvenir winery for a tour and wine tasting before a picnic lunch in their vineyards. After lunch we visit the small winery of Finca las Nubes, the smallest of all the wineries on our tour. We head back into the town of Cafayate to wander the streets and take in the local atmosphere, before dinner next to the main square.

Day 5

This morning we take you to Yacochuya winery where we will taste the product of the collaboration between Arnaldo Etchart and Michel Rolland. The views of the Calchaqui Valleys from this small colonial-style winery are incredible, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a condor or two riding the morning thermals above the valley and over the mountain-tops. We roll back down the hill to Piattelli winery for a light lunch of regional delights. The afternoon provides more free time for getting active in the valley or relaxing at the hotel. Tonight we have prepared an evening of regional culture, with folklore dancers and traditional foods.

Day 6

Today we travel to Molinos, taking a drive along one of the most spectacular sections of National Route 40 (the longest route in Argentina). A true adventure winding along this unpaved road, you will feel the remoteness of this area, and you’ll want to stop every 5 minutes to photograph the changing scenery. We check in at the beautiful boutique hotel, again, with a charm that only this part of Argentina has to offer. Settle in and enjoy lunch on the gallery. In the afternoon we take another adventurous drive through moon-like landscapes to Colome winery. After the winery tour, our senses are in for a real treat at the local Hess art collection: the James Turrell Museum. We will experience a sunset as never before in the final room of this museum, before driving back to the Hacienda for another excellent dinner.

Day 7

To finish our adventure in the province of Salta we set off early and travel along Route 42 through the incredible landscapes of the Cardones National Park, passing the Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop’s Slope) at 3348 metres above sea-level. This drive is considered one of the best ‘off the beaten track’ drives in Argentina. We fly from Salta to Mendoza, arriving at our next stunning hotel, in the heart of Lujan de Cuyo – Mendoza’s best known wine region located just outside the city. Settle into your private room set amongst the vineyards by the foot of the Andes.

Day 8

Our first winery visit is Viña Cobos, just a short trip from our hotel driveway. We taste this winery’s excellent range of wines and learn about terroir differences. Afterwards, we have another short trip around the corner to Ruca Malen. We begin with a tour, before a unique dining experience in this award winning restaurant (Best Global Winery Restaurant – 2014, International Best of Wine Tourism Awards) . Enjoy a six course degustation beautifully paired with wine while taking in the spectacular view of the vineyards and the magnificent Andes along the horizon. These dishes are designed to express the flavours of the region, and through consultation with their winemakers, are perfectly paired with Ruca Malen’s wines. After this incredible meal, you’ll need time to come back down to Earth, so we’ve scheduled free time in the afternoon. You can explore the region up close: go on a hike, a bicycle ride through the vines, or a horse ride through the countryside. Or, enjoy the luxuries of the lodge: take a dip and relax by the pool, or indulge in a spa treatment at the gorgeous day spa. Tonight’s dinner is in the hotel’s beautiful dining area.

Day 9

Today we explore another of Mendoza’s great wine-making regions – Valle de Uco (Uco Valley). On our way South we visit Chandon winery to put some sparkle in your morning. We continue along the scenic drive through the beautiful countryside and small towns of the valley. We arrive at La Azul winery, a boutique family production on Route 89 (the wine route) where we are treated to a lunch of regional specialties and wine on the patio. After lunch we head across the road to Salentein winery, a breathtaking architectural masterpiece and expression of the arts. We discover the history behind this beautifully designed winery and take a look through the Kilka art gallery. Our scenic drive then takes us to the Vines Resort and Spa where we will relax in the gardens and watch the sunset over the Andes. We will experience another unique dinner at the resort’s restaurant, Siete Fuegos (Seven Fires). Internationally acclaimed chef Francis Mallman uses fire in various forms to create exceptional dishes from locally-sourced, seasonal produce, served with excellent Argentinian wine, of course.

Day 10

After a late evening, free time this morning offers the opportunity for a slow start and optional activities if you’re feeling adventurous. After lunch we are welcomed at Lamadrid Familia Durigutti winery for another visit of a winery rich in local history and passion in winemaking. We return to the hotel for a cooking class of regional foods, and a wine degustation to cap off our wine experience in Mendoza.

Day 11

We say goodbye to our new home away from home in Mendoza, and journey south to the Province of Santa Cruz, Patagonia, arriving in the picturesque town of El Calafate. You’ll feel like you’ve landed in a different country as the only familiar feature will be the ever-present Andes Mountain Range. The building-style is different with a Northern European feel, and you’ll notice the persistent wind for which the Patagonian Steppe is so famous. Our accommodation is another example of architectural beauty enhanced by its surroundings. We take advantage of the late sunset at this time of year and spend the evening wandering around the town.

Day 12

Today we go into the wild with a full day excursion to Estancia Cristina. The adventure begins with a boat ride up the North Arm of Argentino Lake and the Cristina Canal, passing ice floes and taking in the magnificent vistas, including the Upsala Glacier. The Estancia offers an example of a traditional Patagonian sheep station. We enjoy a regional lunch at the Estancia before heading out in 4WD vehicles which take us on an incredibly scenic journey up the mountain to the Upsala Glacier Lookout. The views will take your breath away. We have the opportunity to go for a short walk across terrain carved out by the glacier that once covered this area. We head back down the mountain and return to El Calafate for a relaxing evening in our accommodation.

Day 13

Our last big adventure together will take us up close and personal with the Perito Moreno Glacier. We drive into Parque Nacional de los Glaciares (Glaciers National Park) and take in the beautiful scenery along the way. Our first hint of the glacier are the ice floes floating gracefully as we drive alongside the lake. We arrive at the boardwalk where we stand face to face with Perito Moreno Glacier. Take in the incredible view of the sheer wall of the glacier, and witness the spectacle of enormous sheets of ice breaking off and plunging 80 metres into the lake below. We then take a boat ride across the lake, strap on some crampons and head out onto the glacier (on a guided tour, of course)! This is an experience you will never forget. We return to El Calafate for our farewell dinner.

Day 14

Our final day of the tour, the morning is free to relax, perhaps wander through the town of El Calafate and check out the Glacier Museum. We enjoy a final, bitter-sweet lunch together, before flying back to Buenos Aires where our tour ends.