One of the more amazing parts of staying at The Vines is that every guest is assigned a gaucho. By definition, gauchos are cowboys who live in the countryside or pampas, but colloquially, a gaucho is just a straight-up good guy. In Argentina, when you do someone a gauchada, it means you've done them a favor. My gaucho, Matias Soria, a slender, big-eyed and big-hearted Mendoza native, embodies everything a gaucho ought to. I was completely taken care of. He gave me a cell phone to call him whenever, kept my fridge stocked with sparkling water and set me up in front of the fireplace in the lodge with a glass of late-harvest Torrontés. He even arranged for me to plant a couple of Malbec vines with vineyard manager Francisco Evangelista.Share
Matias also rode along with me to the top of the mountain on our sunrise horseback trek, naming all of the surrounding peaks along the way. We tried to spot Tupungato though the clouds; it's the tallest mountain in the valley, and everyone spoke of it as if it were a loyal friend. They all promised I'd see it during my visit. That was not to be.
Later, Matias set up a tasting and blending session with The Vines' generous, knowledgeable wine director, Mariana Onofri. We sat outside and tasted through more than a dozen owners' barrels and bottles, while watching an intense thunderstorm roll in over the desert. She was checking on how the wines were coming along. The young Malbecs were still quite juicy and fruity, while those with age had taken on structure and depth. The Vines bottles its own wines, too, and exports them to the US, including a crisp, fragrant Torrontés and its signature Malbec, a ripe, black cherry–scented wine. (Read more.)