After some sustenance in Cafayate and a tour of this small, attractive town, sitting at the foot of the Andes I decided to venture out a little further. On the road into Cafayate I had crossed a junction with the famous Ruta 40, ranked alongside the iconic Route 66 in the USA and a few others.
Ruta 40 run over 5000kms from the southern border with Chile in Patagonia to the northern border with Chile. It runs parallel with the spine of South America, the Andes, and passes the Andes 27 times, at one point rising to over 5000 metres above sea level.
As I drive north along this road I am amongst the vineyards which produce such wonderful wine. I stop near the 4350kms marker to take in the view and start to consider Ruta 40 as a future travel project!
I head back to the Ruta 68 junction and notice a sign to the Piatelli vineyard, open to the public. I turn off and drive for a dusty kilometre before reaching the entrance where a security guard takes my details and lets me drive on. Before me lies a modern estate complex more Napa than Loire Valley.
Venturing in, notice an inviting restaurant and luckily its lunchtime. It was a wonderful lunch of breaded langostinos and fresh fruit and sorbet, washed down with a remarkabke glass if gran reserve malbec from their vineyard.
Sated and not wanting to leave it too late for the return journey I left aand turned back into Ruta 68 where I picked up three Argentine student backpackers. It was their lucky day as they wanted to get to Salta. It was good company interpersed with their sucking of the mate drink.