Cafayate (photos) is a popular tourist destination with a small town feel. In fact, it is somewhat small with just over 11,000 residents. The draw is twofold: 1) Cafayate is Argentina’s second center for quality wine production (second to Mendoza) and, 2) the nearby Quebrada de Cafayate offers breathtaking natural landscapes.
First, the wine. The Cafayate wine makers established themselves on the strength of their Torrontés, a heady white wine with lingering fruit flavors. This variety is generally considered to be a product exclusively of Argentina although the grapes are from Spain. The Torrontés produced here in the Cafayate valley are considered the best products of this variety. However, in recent years the wine makers here have also been turning out some respectable reds.
We visited Bodega Nanni, a producer of exclusively organic wines, so you know we had to try it. Their tasting room is located in Cafayate a short walk from the main square. After a brief tour (given in Spanish so we had to really focus in order to keep up) we participated in their tasting. For 15 pesos (about $2.75) we were able to taste four of their wines. The Torrontés, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Torrontés late harvest. We really enjoyed the Torrontés and the Tannat. To purchase these wines at the winery would have been at $8 USD each.
Then, there is the Quebrada de Cafayate. The Spanish word “quebrada” refers to a ravine or a gorge. This particular quebrada has been carved out over the millennia by Rio de las Conchas. Much of the formations are comprised of compressed sand and dirt so being fairly soft has been carved into amazing formations of colored sandstone. They exhibit a stunning array of tones from rich red to ethereal green. The quebrada offers some of the most stunning scenery in all of Argentina and shouldn’t be missed.
From Cafayate we will return to Salta in order to connect with a bus for Córdoba.