Almacen del Sur is one of Mendoza's hidden gems--where better to spend a sunny fall afternoon in between stops on the wine route? One can rent a bicycle or go on horseback from winery to winery, making the nearby 'delicatessen' the perfect stop-off for a mid-day meal.
'Almacen' is a word used to describe an old-fashioned general or corner store, though there's nothing resembling your typical convenience store at Almacen del Sur. Housed on an old estate that was originally built in 1888 (entry gates, above) is a beautifully restored casona (big house), a stunning flower garden, and several acres of organic farmland used to produce the vegetables that become the Almacen's delectable savories, spreads and sweets.
Below, a bushel of organic eggplants harvested from the farm.
The fields and orchards produce eggplant, squash, tomatoes, piquillo peppers (an in-house speciality), figs, olives, and quince, among other things, which are converted into jars of goodies like olive spread, green tomato chutney, or quinces in malbec. (Full menu available on the Almacen del Sur website)
Below, the fields--(piquillo pepper and zucchini, I think) ready for harvest.
Closer to the casona is a carefully tended flower garden, full of fragrant roses (to make into rose petal jam), lavender and fig trees. The garden has an English feel to it, and right in the middle of Maipu, one is transported to the regal elegance of a bygone era.
Under a wisteria-blanketed patio, lunch is served--overlooking this little Eden.
The casona itself was restored with every attention to detail, the most perfect historic elements left intact, other elements modernized. (Below, an entryway. More photos are available on their website--under 'about us/the casona') The facility is available for private events and parties like weddings--the rambling house and gardens would be the perfect setting for a stylish reception.
The patio, enclosed by the curling iron work so representative of Argentina's golden age offers a gateway between the elegance of the estate and the rustic life outside--and still affords a lovely view of the foothills of the Andes.
One can always retreat into the cool of the dining room to escape the afternoon sun. While there, enjoy a sampling of the Almacen's treats that are made in-house, (the factory where the preserves are handmade is in a small building behind the casona) or an organic wine tour lunch.
And to finalize your visit at Almacen del Sur, be sure to take home as many jars of the good stuff as you can fit in your pack. We brought home some of the piquillo pepper spread, and opened it on a dreary day in March in Colorado, one of those days when the end of winter is just around the corner and yet it seems like the warmth of spring will never materialize.
The sound of the jar's seal cracking open was like a ray of sunshine preserved from that bucolic afternoon so far away in Maipu. Inside, the tastes of Mendoza's late harvest sun awaited us, bringing back the memories of the charming treasure that is Almacen del Sur.