We are up early, but manage to get another feed of cornflakes in before we head to the bus station for a 7am bus down to Cafayate. We've got a bit of extra time up our sleeves from only staying one night in San Pedro, and don't need to be in Buenos Aires until the 21st of September for our flights down to El Calafate. So, with that extra time we've decided to go and taste some wines in Cafayate.
We arrive around 11am and find a dorm at Rusty K Hostel for 40 pesos per person. We enquire at the bus company office as to the possibility of getting from Cafayate down to Cordoba, but there is no direct bus and we would have to change buses in Tucuman. It turns out just as easy and a similar length of time on buses, to return to Salta and get a night bus down to Cordoba. So we decide to blitz the wineries of Cafayate this afternoon and get a bus tomorrow afternoon back to Salta and a night bus down to Cordoba. The only bus office in town seems to be Flecha, so we book both buses with them.
We hire a couple of bikes from our hostel and set off out of town with our winery map in hand. Cycling out of town, we have two dogs perk up from their sleep and chase our bikes. We try and dissuade them from following us, but to no avail. They trot alongside our bikes as we bike over the river and out alongside dormant vines. We are turned away from the first vineyard's driveway we turn up, by a guard near the gate who advises that the vineyard doesn't take visitors. The next driveway seems even more uninviting to a couple on bikes with two dogs tagging along - it's not only a vineyard but has a golf course as well and looks very well to do. We decide to go elsewhere and head back towards town to try some bodegas right in town.
The first winery we try is Bodega Nanni, which offers a free tour, in both Spanish and English of their winery followed by tastings, which are optional and cost 5 pesos each. Naturally we do not decline the tastings, we are not here to p**** foot around. Nanni wines are all organic, and very easy to drink. I could have bought a bottle of each. First up we get to try the Torrontes, a grape that is indigenous to Argentina and is a quite nice white. There was a rather refreshing Rose, followed by a taste of their Cabernet Sauvignon and to finish, a taste of Torrontes Tardio, a sweet desert wine.
We finished our tastings and headed back out to our bikes locked to a pole outside the Bodega. To our surprise, our dogs (we have named them already - Fred and Bruce) have not wandered off and found someone else to follow as we thought they would when we disappeared inside the winery, but are instead sleeping beside our bikes in the shade. They wake up when we unlock our bikes and follow us up the street to the next Bodega, El Transito, which has free tastings, but no tour.
We head in and shoo away our now rather persistent followers, Fred and Bruce. We can't have them coming into the winery with us, how embarrassing. We pull up a pew at the bar and taste three wines, the Torrontes, a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon from their Pietro Marini label. As the tastings are free, we feel a little obliged to make a purchase, so we buy a bottle of their Reserve Torrontes for 24 pesos or £4.
Fred and Bruce follow us back to our hostel where we put our Torrontes in the fridge for later. Back on our bikes we head out of town, past some mean dogs that chase Fred and Bruce. Fred shows his true colours, and as soon as he is chased he lies down and whimpers while the chasing dog stands over him giving him the stare. He's a yellow belly. The four of us carry on out of town, down a dirt track, where after a few kilometres we come to the end of the road and a small cheese factory. We lock our bikes and head in. Fred and Bruce are right on our heels. We pretend we do not know them and go 'shoo, shoo, who let these dogs in here'.
The tour at Cabra de Cafayate (Goats of Cafayate) is in Spanish, so we elect not to do it, but are offered some tastings for free. There are a few different flavours, all quite subtle in the deliciously creamy goat cheese. We get some of the Oregano flavoured Queso de Cabra Semiduro and head out of the reception to find Fred in the midst of peeing on the doorstep. Both dogs have been and rolled in some water somewhere and are dripping wet. Mortified and ashamed of our adopted dogs we make a hasty escape from the cheese place, scolding our dogs as we pedal back to town.
In town we finish off the day with a couple of wine flavoured sorbet icecreams - one Cabernet Sauvignon and the other Torrontes. Both with a considerable alcoholic kick.
We dine on fresh baguette, our goats cheese and ham, washed down with our Torrontes for dinner. Oh and Fred and Bruce have finally wandered off elsewhere after we shut the gate at the hostel on them.
After our wines with dinner the night before, we sleep in until around 8.30am. Ryan manages to watch some of the F1 race on TV at the hostel over his free breakfast. We are still loving the cornflakes. We store our bags at the hostel and head out to hit one last winery.
We get a tour in Spanglish at Salvador Figueroa, a tiny family run winery with a very small output each year. We pay for some tastings, trying a Malbec and a Torrontes well before lunch time. I reckon being on holiday excuses the drinking before lunchtime rule of respectability!
We sun ourselves in the peaceful backyard of the hostel for a while and then head to the main plaza to wait for our bus. Our ride back to Salta goes by quick enough, though our bus is one that stops whenever people want on or off, not just stops in bus terminals. Back in Salta we get some hot dinner of empanada like pastries and sit and wait for our next bus down to Cordoba.