No blarney on St Pats' day...met THE Don!

Trip Start Mar 07, 2013
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Northern Argentina,
Sunday, March 17, 2013

The morning journey takes us away from Hacienda Molinos into the mountains back towards Salta. The winding road turns past Saguaro cactus and scrub brush. Around a turn the road runs directly between the porches of the working artisan weavers who make ponchos for Salteno gauchos.
Next it is on to our lunch stop at Payogasta. Blink and you have driven right through. Pulling into the little gravel parking area, this is a complete stop. Four yellow bikes imply wheels for rent, a sign in the next arch denotes the Bodega Payogasta, a sign nearby points to meals. We enter the large blue trimmed screen door of the pink adobe building across the way to the cafe, Sala Payogasta. Jorge and our local guides have arranged a meal for us of chicken roasted in the domed adobe oven behind this restaurant.
Alex, the wine maker and self-named "oenoligical engineer" and owner of the restaurant, wears a hat reminiscent of a basque countryman from northern Spain. His red wine is poured with lunch. Made from Malbec, Tannat and Merlot, the funk in the nose blows off with time in the glass. It matches very well with appetizers of tamals made with local grazed beef and a dish of fried provolone cheese drizzled with local honey.
Jorge and Victor have a nice surprise for everyone: bottles of Amalaya red blend and Torrentes from yesterday's visit to Colome. As they said at the beginning of today's trip, it is a day of contrasts. Rustic wines of Bodega Paygasto and polished wines of Colome.
Suddenly Jorge makes us aware that another contrast has occurred: a nearby table In this tiny stop hosts major wine personalities, Donald and Ursula Hess, owners of Colome. In the course of our meal Donald comes over to talk with our group, giving us details of his development of the museum, the winery. He is a very kind, down to earth gentleman and his wonderful wife Ursula is absolutely the same. You know this stop has to be a local favorite for good food, with these folks coming by for lunch!

Once back on the road it is up the winding road to the moutain pass at 10,500 feet. Some times the guard rail is very close. Implying a slope away from the road. Otherwise the pea soup fog typical of this area only allows light through and no view of the gorge. Without the wide open view it is easy to pay attention to purple, blue, yellow and pink wild flowers tucked in the rocky slopes above the bus.
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