Our drive through Argentina’s Salta Province was a totally awesome experience. We experienced colorful, grandiose landscape. Salta Province has some of the most scenic driving routes in Argentina. While Salta Province is known for its scenery it also is known for its wines. In Salta Province we drove north to the town of Cafayate. The Cafayate wine region is a sub-region within Salta Province, which is held in high regard for the overall quality of its wine. Cafayate is located in the southern part of Valles Calchaquíes, with an altitude of more than 1,800 meters. This high elevation enables Cafayate to produce high quality wines.
When we reached Cafayate, we decided to stop for several days to explore the wines in this sub-region of Salta Province. At the time we visited Cafayate the city was getting ready for a wine festival. Some of the local artists were painting wall murals for the wine celebration, as part of the Serenade to Cafayate. At the same time, the indigenous people, Kallchaki, began their celebrations. Cafayate is also known as the Cradle of Folklore.
The Cafayate wine region produces Torrontés, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tannat and Merlot. Just like Malbec has drawn attention to Mendoza Province so has Torrontés for Salta Province. We especially enjoyed discovering Cafayate and exploring the wineries in the area. Cafayate ’s Ruta Del Vino begins near Bodegas Etchart, which is located just at the entrance to the town. We visited the following wineries in Cafayate:
We began our first Cafayate wine tasting at Bodegas Etchart. Bodegas Etchart was founded in 1850. They produce several very good wines, including a late harvest Torrontés. Torrontés, a white wine, is another wine that Argentine wineries claim is unique to Argentina. Normally, we only did wine tastings at the wineries visited but this time we took the winery tour. The tour was unique in that they were actually producing wine as we watched. After tasting we bought several of their red wines and the late harvest Torrontés, which is quite good. The Etchart late harvest Cosecha Tardia Torrontés, we had in the desert, near Colomé. This is a dessert wine that we have put at the top of our list.
Bodega El Esteco
Bodega El Esteco produces several well-known labels, including Elementos, Don David and Ciclos. The tasting at Bodega El Esteco can be on the expensive side because you have to buy a “flight” of three to four wines. Each taste is a glass of wine for each wine label. So we each decided on a different flight and shared. We tried all of them and end up buying because they were all good.
If you are looking for luxury accommodations in Cafayate then Patios de Cafayate Hotel and Spa at the El Esteco is worth exploring.
Cafayate Organic Wineries
We also visited several “organic” wineries in the Valles Calchaquíes. One was Bodega Nanni where we bought their Bonarda Reserve 2008. Another organic winery is Bodega Nubes. At Bodega Nubes we bought a Merlot, which we drank later in the desert near Colomé.
North of Cafayate
Just north of Cafayate, on Ruta 68, is a beautiful canyon, Quebrada de Cafayate on the Rio Conchas. We took a day to explore the scenic Quebrada de Cafayate. We unexpectedly discovered a small boutique wine hotel, La Casa de la Bodega, about 16 km northeast of Cafayate. Unfortunately, we are a bit too late to taste their wines but we did take a tour of the hotel.
After leaving Cafayate we continued our journey north on Ruta 40 to Molinos. We then took a ripio (gravel) road detour to visit Colomé Winery, one of Argentina’s top organic wineries.
Getting to/from Cafayate
Cafayate does not have an airport and is only accessible by car or bus. The shortest route (Ruta 68) is 165 kilometers of winding road from Salta, capital city of Salta Province. Cafayate wineries were delightful to visit. Cafayate offers a good range of restaurants and accommodations.