San Rafael, Cuyo, Argentina
Monday, February 25, 2013

Before arriving in San Rafael, I’ll quickly mention the bus journey.

It was the most luxurious bus I’ve been on yet. We had two meals, watched films, and I was able to remain fairly horizontal throughout. The conductor even ran a game of Bingo for everyone, but when he said “ochenta ocho” (eight eight) I didn’t detect a reference to “Dos gordo señoritas” (Two fat ladies, I think..)

I also had my first glass of wine in Argentina. Albeit from a polystyrene cup, but can’t complain really.

Once in San Rafael, I spent two days seeing the city and the surrounding areas.

On the first day, I visited a large canyon (Atuel) which I would be able to tell more about had the guide not spoken rapid Spanish. The scenery was impressive, and hopefully some photos will give an idea.

Of note were the hydroelectric power stations throughout which power the surrounding areas. Quite impressive. But more so are the huge diversity of rocks. Geologists would have (probably already have had) a field day.

A lot of the time, from what I could discern, when we stopped to observe an interesting rock formation, the guide would say something along the lines of “And if you look really closely, you can make out Jesus’ face” or the like. I’ll leave the reader to try and see what they can see.

On the second day, I just woke up and saw where it took me. This ended up being to a winery (classic).

At first I was struck by it’s proximity to the centre of town after walking only 10 minutes or so. Although upon talking to someone there who gave me a tour she said that this winery was in fact the start of the town. Before, there was nothing. A french immigrant came over as he’d heard it was a good place to grow wine and begun setting it all up.

The main building is the first bit of bricks & mortar that would later become San Rafael. He needed to a train station to transport the wine (he figured) so brought over a load of other immigrants from France to set up a colony, and to work on the land.

Once a critical mass of people were established, it became a serious enough town to warrant a train station and his wine business flourished. Consequently the “centre of town” was built around it, hence why it was so close.

The lady gave a brief walk around of the place and how they still use the same equipment that was originally shipped over from France in 1882. Brushed up a bit on the bare essentials of wine making (no need for Fun Facts though) and saw the cellars, fermentors, and barrels needed to go from grape to glass.

The tour ended trying a few of their house wines (this time out of a real glass). The lady had only broken English, but was still able to give some decent descriptions. Nonetheless I think I need to brush up on my adjectives before the next tasting. You never know who could be listening…

With that, I left the La Abeja winery and also left the tranquil life of the vineyard. There will no doubt be more to report in the coming week.

That’s about it for San Rafael. It was somewhere I had written on my phone from 11.1.1 and am glad I made the slight detour to visit it. The people continued to be very friendly and (perhaps because the weather was much better than other places I’d recently visited) I departed for Mendoza city having had a very pleasant couple of days.

Lake

Blocking lake

Power

Daym

Bus for the canyon

Can you see Jesus?

Taste of home

Impulse herbs and porridge

Old school wine machinery

Champers being made

Winery

Inflation and wine

More old equipment