Mendoza was the highlight of out four week vacation in Argentina. We travel often and usually do not like vacations planned to the last detail without any say in the itinerary, so we did not want to go with a traditional tour operator. After reading reviews of Mendoza we decided we would need to hire a driver to enjoy the wine regions responsibly and hassle free.
We found Gustavo Delucchi(email@example.com) on Chowhound and we were not disappointed. All of the reviews were spot on accurate. We arrived in Mendoza late after cancelled and delayed flights and to top it off our bags were lost. This was not a good start to our stay before we even set foot outside of the airport. Gustavo greeted us with a smile even though he had waited hours for us at the airport. After hearing about our bags he immediately went to the ticket counter to sort out our missing luggage. He even went as far as to get one of the desk workers personal cell number to stay in touch with the airport to help find our missing bags. I was tired upon arrival, and was so happy to have him take care of this on our behalf.
He planned each day with a mix of small, medium, and large vineyard tours and tastings. We also toured a Olive Oil farm to mix it up a bit. Our lunches were also planned with a mix of local and upscale wine paired meals. One of the highlights was a small vineyard La Azul at the base of the Andes in the Uco Valley were we had a great lunch outside on the patio in the sunshine with beautiful views of the Mountains. He has a good relationship with many of the vineyards, and as a result many of the tours were private at no extra cost to us. It feels as if you are welcome into the vineyards as old friends instead of tourists. His car is extremely comfortable, and he always has snacks and refreshments in the car for in between the vineyards. I hate guided tours and really felt sorry for the loads of people on tour buses who visited the vineyards. They really missed out on the Mendoza experience. Gustavo came to each and every tour and meal with us while other tourists got dropped off at the front door by their drivers.
We are wine beginners and he was full of knowledge on all things wine, so we had mini wine infomercials in between vineyard tours. We learned a lot on this vacation thanks to Gustavo. Ordering, purchasing, and discussing wine is more enjoyable now that we have a better understanding of the wine making process. He will plan everything from the time he picks you up until you are fast asleep in your bed to your specifications. He even brought us to the central market so we could pick up some local meats and cheeses for the hotel. We preferred to figure out our own meals after he dropped us off around 6PM, but he offered each night to make reservations and always gave us suggestions. Our favorite was Azafran in Mendoza city. We enjoyed touring the small vineyards especially Mendel and La Azul, as you get a more personal tour and tasting. The larger vineyards like Clos De Los Seite Monteviejo and Catena Zapata are amazing and a must see, but if I go back again I would focus on the small to medium size vineyards. We had friends in Mendoza around the same time and from their description of the driver they had it was nowhere near the service we found with Gustavo for the same price.
He planned our trip as pay as you go at the vineyards, and pay at the end for his services which was what we wanted. We paid him in pesos, but he accepts USD as well. Please note many of the vineyards DO NOT accept Master Card. BRING VISA if you have it. See below for an ideal day with Gustavo:
11:00hs Mendel winery (usd10 p/p tour & tasting, if you buy a bottle the tasting is free)
12:30hs Vistalba winery (free tour if you get the lunch in their restaurant)
13:30hs La Bourgogne in Vistalba winery (usd70 p/p with reserve wines included, pairing wine & food)
15:30hs Carmelo Patti winery (free tour & tasting with Carmelo)