This morning we awoke to the mountain mist lifting from the rustic fields stretching out around Cachi. We piled into Jorge’s 4×4 and set off on the windy roads towards the famous high altitude vineyards of Donald Hess’ Colome. (Read Part 1 of this adventure here)
Ever since I read the New York Times article entitled, “In Argentina, Wine, Art and Altitude” by Alessandra Stanley, the Colome vineyard and James Turrell Light Museum had been a place I always wanted to visit. Previously working with wine, high altitude wines had also always intrigued me. The robust flavors produced at these limits in conjunction with the deep color tones that the grapes grown at high altitude yield, are absolutely extraordinary. In Stanley’s article she tackles the grand feat of successfully painting a picture of the rugged beauty and oddities that thrive at Donald Hess’ Colome Vineyard and his James Turrell-dedicated Light Museum in the northwest corner of Argentina. “Together, the Hess winery and art museum may well be one of the most puzzling one-man grand projects since the Pyramids of Egypt”, Stanley only half-jokingly points out. She indulges in the, somewhat comical and rather imaginative contradiction that is the rigid, traditional and extraordinary Colome winery of Swiss businessman, Donald Hess, and his contrasting obscure light museum, which poses as a shrine to James Turrell’s work, filled solely with Turrell’s ingenious and puzzling pieces, tucked away amidst the arid, desert landscape of Salta’s Andean backcountry. This is a site to experience.
We soon arrived in Molinos: the gateway to the Hess’ Colome Vineyard and Estate. We could smell the peppered, desert air as we sat in the shade of the ancient pepper tree that accents the main patio of Hacienda de Molinos. We visited the humble colonial church before continuing on our way to the world’s highest vineyards. Here, we tasted the dark sapphire-colored wine, listened to the wind as it combed through the Andes from the neighboring Atacama Desert, saw how tradition, art and elegance collided in this remote haven and felt ourselves slip away from initial uncertainty of the harsh terrain (and abstruse light exhibit) and succumb to a zen-like tranquility in this exquisite setting.
As the afternoon grew to a close we took off on the road again heading southeast to Cafayate, the principal wine production area in Salta. On our way, we passed through Quebrada de las Flechas, where jaw-dropping rocking formations, like massive arrowheads, jutted out of the earth all around us shooting towards the sky.
The town of Cafayate was quaint and had people bustling around in nervous excitement readying themselves for the Argentina soccer World Cup qualifying match. For dinner, we joined a large family of locals in one of the numerous fantastic restaurants lining the main square to watch the match. After an extremely exciting victory we opted to walk back to our hotel, Vinas de Cafayate, for a much needed rest.
Stay tuned for the rest of my Salta adventure in our blogs coming out over the next weeks.
Want to explore Salta on your next adventure? Check out these itineraries:
- 5-Day Northwest Argentina: Culture, Food and Mountains
- 5-Day Northwest Argentina: Wine and Canyons
- 4-Day Northwest Argentina: Trekking to the Clouds
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Your friendly Argentina expert,