It is Thanksgiving morning, and I am driving from Toronto via Buffalo and Erie to my home in Pittsburgh. I have just finished my long flight home from Mendoza, where I visited the Conalbi Grinberg Casa Vinicola Manor and Winery hosted by Luis Pablo Conalbi and Sergio Grinberg. Outside, it is frigid and snowing, and I am anticipating a wonderful meal with extended family at my house. Fresh memories of an early springtime visit to the wine capital of South America swirl in my head, and I can hardly wait to recount my experiences for my family.
At a tasting in San Francisco, I was introduced to the wines of Casa Vinicola, one of the pioneer boutique wineries in Argentina. I have been hoping to visit their estate for a long time. On arrival to Mendoza, my escorts and owners themselves met me beyond the gate at the airport. The drive from metropolitan Mendoza, to rural Maipú was itself an adventure. As we neared their vineyard house, the drive on gravel roads was interrupted occasionally by children playing or riding bicycles, farmers directing their horses, and an occasional pick-up delivering goods. I can see wild herbs growing along the roadsides. This is not going to be a hurried jaunt through Sonoma or Temecula in California. Perhaps 50 years ago, you could enjoy a retreat like this in California – but no longer.
As the gate to their property is opened, we are greeted by three sentries - Mora, Miranda and Storm. I wonder if there ever comes a burglar, how would these loving dogs treat their unwanted guests? Actually, they are watchful, well-behaved, and never enter the house. Our hosts are beginning an addition to their home and the plans look spectacular. Facing the westward direction and with an extended neck, you can see the Andes mountain range. Inside, the sites and smells are no less spectacular.
You find quaint living quarters. Entering a room in the front of the house, their fine achievements are proudly displayed. Turning around, you walk into the living room with soft music filling the air. There are original sculptures, some crafted by Luis Pablo, and paintings mastered by his mother, Lily. A private room and bath awaits your arrival. Peace and privacy are what you experience after winding down from a long night of travelling. You can sink into a large leather couch and read your favorite book, listen to choice classical music or opera, or enjoy conversation with your hosts. You can direct the creation of a fantastic meal using your own recipes, or allow a skilled chef to prepare a meal of any sophistication you desire. The wines are presented to your liking, and afterwards be prepared to share mate – an essential hot tea-like infusion intended to strengthen friendly conversation.
Outside, there is a quiet pool, beautiful flowers, and the vineyards extend almost to the doorway. The grape vines grow old-style, called “parral,” extending about six feet high. At this time of year, the leaves have just opened and there occurs an occasional thunderstorm. You can help your hosts label the bottles by hand or just watch them do it as you unscrew a cork when their backs are turned. With a sampling of cheese, meats, and olives, not to forget fantastic wines, you can sit at a primitive table and chairs within the vineyard itself. The next time I visit, I will come at harvest time. The annual Vendimia Festival in Mendoza is said to be an unforgettable celebration of the wine harvest.
I stayed with my proprietors for five days, but could have remained another week. One or two nights would be a great stop if travelling through the area. Two weeks is perfect if you want to escape and forget about your bustling world. Luis Pablo and Sergio expertly share their knowledge and will graciously and unselfishly offer directions to neighboring bodegas to broaden your palatal experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This B&B belongs to the first boutique winery in Argentina, CONALBI GRINBERG Casa Vinicola is located in the olive and grape farm area near Mendoza Argentina. The 2 exclusive suites makes you feel at home in the wine country area of Mendoza. Reservation required for both accomodation or wine tasting of our ¨Cult Wines¨. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Conalbi Grinberg Casa Vinicola Mendoza, Argentina - Maipu