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Andean Wines

Santiago, Mendoza, Chile – Argentina
(7 Days / 6 Nights)

Day 1
Bienvenidos a Chile! After your long flight from the US, meet with your English-speaking guide and driver and drive into the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago. This modern metropolis at the feet of Andes has a bustling downtown, relaxed bohemian plazas, hip neighborhoods, lush, green parks lined, fascinating museums, and an effervescent dining scene. Enjoy an early check-in to your boutique hotel set in a mansion built in the 1920s in Santiago’s Bohemian Bellavista district at the foot of the Parque Metropolitano. Recycled with details to respect its past while tastefully incorporating contemporary touches, rest in your suite with high ceilings, parquet floors, and satiny sheets.

In the late morning, meet owner, cookbook author, chef, and sommelier Liz Caskey as your personal host today to explore Santiago’s vibrant fresh markets and Chile’s rich culinary history. Explore the labyrinth of stands at Santiago’s sprawling wholesale market, a scenic hodgepodge of stalls. Vendors hawk the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables, local cheeses, a plethora of meats, mounds of spices, and indigenous foodstuffs like pine nuts from the Araucaria tree or merkén (smoked chili). Shop with Liz to select lo más fresco of ingredients that her caseros have to offer. Wander through the maze of picadas, joints, and pull up a stool at an old-school eatery to sample seasonal Chilean classics like sweet corn tamales, steaming brothy stews, and avocado-laden sandwiches.

Cross the rushing Mapocho River to the bustling fish market where seafood turns over at the speed of light. Visit our favorite fishmonger and select straight-from-the-ocean seafood. Watch the show while expert hands fillet or shuck our order with precision. Swing by our favorite cheese shop to pick up tangy goat cheese and creamy mantecoso before visiting our favorite parlor for some artisan ice cream for the dessert.

Arrive at Liz’s spacious private apartment overlooking Santiago’s Parque Forestal with panoramic views of the Fine Arts Museum, San Cristóbal hill, and the Andes. Relax and make yourself at home. Sip some of our favorite Chilean sparkler and nosh on appetizers while participating (or watching) the preparation of an exquisite three-course lunch. Dishes draw their inspiration from authentic recipes, regional cooking techniques, and the fantastic fresh ingredients we collected on our market exploration. A selection of premium wines complements each savory course. Return to the hotel to rest. Dinner is on your own. (The Aubrey)

Day 2
This morning, drive towards the foothills of the Andes to the wine appellation closest to Santiago, the Maipo Valley. Named after the Maipo River, the excellent soil and dry Mediterranean climate create the perfect duo for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style reds.

Head to a micro-valley near the city limits where elegant Bordeaux-style wines with herbaceous aromas, firm tannins, and vibrant acidity are born. Visit the project of three well-known Frenchmen in the wine industry with their Chilean partner. Together they make elegant, European-style wines with New World terroir—including Chile’s best Chardonnay!

Continue to a joint venture between Chile’s most traditional winery and a First Growth French Chateau. This prestigious project was formed more than a decade ago. The objective is to produce one elegant wine combining old world know-how with Chile’s unique terroir, one of the best areas in the world for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit the vineyards to understand their unique zoning and harvest system, followed by a tour of the sleek winery and a tasting of the fantastic 2008 vintage. Afterwards, stay on as their special guest for an exclusive private luncheon at the winery paired with house wines.

Follow the winding curves towards the mountains to a winery driven by terroir. Here, the stony soils and temperature fluctuation produce tongue-bewitching red blends with blackcurrant-laden Cabernet and earthy Carmenere. Visit the vineyard and taste the wines of this inspiring little gem. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

In the evening, meet with your host, a local sommelier, to hit Santiago’s favorite wine bar to continue tasting more Chilean wine gems. Savor a flight of top wines by the glass with a light dinner. Try some of the lesser-known varietals booming in Chile like Carignan from the southern Maule Valley, Chardonnay from the far south, zingy Sauvignon Blanc from the desert, or elegant blends that blindfolded, you may think you’re drinking Bordeaux. Salud! (The Aubrey)

Day 3
Depart south from Santiago to Cachapoal, a newish wine appellation forming part of the Rapel Valley. Cachapoal is divided into the high part of the valley near the Andes with rocky, poor soils, and the dry, clay soils towards the coast. Visit a winery conceived with the sole objective of making a grand cru from Chile. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, no detail has been spared in this exquisite project. The result is concentrated wines with great structure, soft tannins, bright aromas, and a tremendous balance. Get to know the soul of this wine by visiting its birthplace—the vineyards and winery—followed by an interactive barrel tasting and sit down of the outstanding 2006 vintage.

Stop at a gorgeous colonial winery, a historical monument with tiled corridors and whitewashed adobe walls. With various vineyard plantations throughout Colchagua, understand the varied terroir within the valley from Andean foothills to coast by tasting their finest wines.

Continue south to the horseshoe-shaped Apalta, a micro-valley in Colchagua. Break at a stunning winery, belonging to the Gran Marnier family, perhaps Chile’s most chic, innovative, and highly acclaimed. Their crown jewel, an extraordinary wine named 2008 Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator, reflects the winery’s opulent setting buried deep within an Apalta hillside. Marvel at the state-of-the-art facilities before an exclusive tasting in their unique second-year barrel cellar. Stay on for lunch at their as their private guests. Sip on some dazzling Sauvignon Blanc in the vineyards. Let the resident chef dazzle you with elegant, simple food made from their biodynamic and organic garden paired with house wines.

Drop in on a boutique project making one single Cabernet-Carmenere blend from 115-year-old rootstock. Walk amid the craggy vines and admire the restored colonial cellar. Take part with the winemaker in a fun, educational vertical tasting to admire the evolution of this wine, renowned for its remarkable balance of power and finesse. Return to Santiago in the evening. (The Aubrey)

Day 4
Take your scenic morning flight from Santiago to Mendoza, Argentina, over the majestic Andes. Mendoza sits nestled beneath towering snow-capped Andean peaks. This desert oasis gives birth to world-class Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet, along with a free-spirited, laid back lifestyle. Meet your English-speaking driver at the airport and transfer to the shady suburb of Chacras de Coria.

Arrive at the newest luxury hotel in Mendoza with low-slung modernist structure in raw concrete surrounded by lovely grounds and vines. Check into your bi-level suites with modern, sleek décor and an attractive contrast of concrete and hardwood, patterned textiles and art. Revive with coffee from your own Nespresso machine. Or unwind with the complimentary house wine and patio area to soak up the glorious Mendoza sunshine.

This afternoon, enjoy a detox in the traditional-style Turkish hammam circuit and spa. Sweat, detox, and let the masseuses nimble fingers knead away any stress. Dine in their restaurant where the focus is on succulent meats, risotto, or lighter fare. The expansive wine cellar carries many of the best wine labels in the region. Welcome to Mendoza. (Entre Cielos)

Day 5
Luján de Cuyo forms part of the Mendoza River high region where the majority of the vineyards are planted with red varietals, the standout being Malbec. Considered by many winemakers as a viticultural ”promised land,” this region was the first to institute the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée) for Argentine Malbec. Today, explore those different sub-appellations and microclimates to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for why the unique combination of desert-like climate and high altitude provide the ideal place for the Malbec grape to flourish.

Start with a visit to a reference winery overseen by one of Argentina’s top winemakers. Learn how meticulously tended 80-year-old vines produce some of the finest wines in Mendoza from their single vineyard, high-altitude Malbec to their unusual Semillon. Tour the charming turn-of-the-century adobe bodega followed by a vertical tasting of Malbec and their top blend.

Next, get to know the brainchild of three enologists, including a well-known Californian winemaker, where they grow stellar Malbec and other varietals like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tour the striking ultra-modern along with a “horizontal” barrel tasting of the components of their fine wines.

Stop at a project of a famous Champagne chateau housed in a remodeled Spanish colonial style winery, including the enormous brick cellar that houses the fermentation tanks and aging barrels. Meet up with the resident winemaker for an exclusive tasting of their top label followed by a private luncheon in their guesthouse. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. (Entre Cielos)

Day 6
The dream of all wine lovers could be to create the perfect wine. Today, play winemaker for the day. Drive an hour south of the city of Mendoza over the rolling hills to the high-altitude Uco Valley at 900-1,200 meters above sea level. A lush agricultural valley in the midst of a parched desert, the valley floor is dotted with almond trees and fruit orchards. With a privileged natural setting below a stretch of the Andes framed by the imposing Mount Tupungato, this is one of the most stunning regions in Mendoza. The valley’s dry weather and wide thermal amplitude have created distinctive microclimates resulting in predominantly red wines rich in color, aromas and ideal for aging.

Meet the right hand winemaker for one of France’s most touted international wine consultants. Work side-by-side to learn the art of creating a blend. Taste the different grape varieties and samples. Structure your wine, debate, and come back to it. After the percentages have been determined, your wine will be aged and bottled to ship to your wine cellar.

After you blending session, lunch on a beautiful private estate in Vistaflores on their breezy veranda. Savor a delicious meal from artisan cheeses to cured meats, grilled meats and salads and their sinfully delicious tiramisu—all paired with lush wines. Return to Mendoza in the late afternoon. (Entre Cielos)

Day 7
This morning, after check out, meet with the head chef of a gourmet restaurant of one of Mendoza’s classic wineries. Today, learn to cook the Argentine way and perfect the technique of slow cooking in a traditional horno de barro, mud oven. Prepare beef empanadas, roasted vegetables and meats, and burnt stone fruits. Or, try to master grilling for the perfect bife and cooking with fire with techniques like rescoldo, cooking with ashes. After your morning of instruction, savor your culinary creations with a selection of house wines. Transfer to airport in the mid-afternoon for your departing flight to Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires.