Chile’s Big Reds
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. Follow the road towards the mountains to a winery driven by terruño, 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 in their beautiful cellar.
In the village of Pirque, drop in on friends at a non-profit organic farm. Get to know the organic vegetable garden along with the goats and chickens responsible for the delicious cheese and free-range eggs. Partake in a private farm-to-table luncheon in the 19th century villa with creamy Chevre-style goat cheese, juicy vine-ripened tomato pebre, perfectly seared free range chicken, and crunchy mud-oven-baked bread. Savor more valley wines with lunch.
Visit Chile’s pioneer organic garage winery producing only a few thousand cases each year. Stroll the serene horse-plowed vineyards as they share how they cultivate their grapes in harmony with nature. The results are phenomenal, robust reds that express the passion of the people who lovingly make this wine.
Continue south into the countryside dotted with patchwork fields, red-tiled roofs, Alamo trees, and the jagged outline of the Andes. Drive past the dusty country town of San Vicente de Tagua Tagua past the wooden water mills down a long, winding road. Arrive at a pequeño winery and wine lodge in its own valley. Check into La Cabaña, situated on a hill with breathtaking views of the vineyards, hills, and mountains. Find a spot on the deck to admire the beauty of this place, and let the world melt away with a glass of their luscious wine. (Vik Millahue)
Spend your day exploring one of the most significant wine projects in South America. Rendezvous with your winery host, then head off in a 4×4 for a vineyard tour to understand, first hand, the terroir of this fascinating project from soil studies to grape varietals and high density planting. After, engage in a dynamic barrel tasting to taste the components of the yet-to-be-released VIK wine, only available for hotel guests.
Break for lunch at the lodge, and after, take a long siesta. In the late afternoon, saddle up with the adept arriero (horseman) to explore the vineyards, hills, and native flora on horseback. Marvel at the sweeping views of the glorious Chilean countryside. Dinner is whenever you’d like—with lots of Vik wine. Bliss for wine connoisseurs. (Vik Millahue)
Check out this morning and meet a local chamantera weaver of extraordinary textiles that are sown into ornate ponchos worn by the elegant huasos, Chilean cowboys, for rodeos, a passion in the Central Valley. A centuries-old living art, get to know the area’s elder weaver who lovingly passes this art on to the next generation in a live demonstration at her home.
Stop for lunch at a gorgeous colonial winery and historical monument with tiled corridors and whitewashed adobe walls. With various vineyard plantations throughout Colchagua, understand their varied terrain from Andean foothills to coast. Pair their unique wines with each course like a silky, floral Viognier, peppery Cabernet Sauvignon, or explosive signature red blend.
Visit friends with an olive grove focused on premium olive oil production. Grasp the fascinating process of growing the olives, extracting the oil, and, finally, tasting the different varieties like Arbequina and Picual that make up their peppery, fresh blend.
Continue to the heart of Colchagua to the village of Apalta. Your “home” is a casita at Casa Lapostolle winery, nestled into the forested hillside in a bucolic, peaceful setting. Your handsome villa, named after one of the grape varieties in the Clos Apalta wine like Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, is tastefully furnished with native hardwood, white, and earth tones. Each villa comes with a Jacuzzi bath and a private terrace, perfect for gazing upon that gorgeous vista: green-carpeted valley floor with vines and the serrated Andes in the distance. Settle in and then dine at leisure that evening. (Casa Lapostolle Residence)
Today is yours to relax and enjoy this exquisite corner of Chile. For your all-inclusive stay, sleep in and then go for a hike to the top of the hill to marvel at how nature has blessed this spectacular corner of Chile. Swirl down into the gravity-flow winery buried six stories in the earth for private tasting and visit owner Madame Marnier’s private wine cellar (only for hotel guests). Let your feet dangle in the infinity pool and soak up the southern sunshine. Indulge in delicious meals with organic vegetables where the fine house wines flow like water. All meals and wines are included. (Casa Lapostolle Residence)
Check out mid-morning and drive to the western reaches of Colchagua to visit a top-rated garage winery. Here, the perfect combination of granitic soil and cool coastal climate convene to produce show-stopping Syrah and Malbec. Understand the unique viticulture with the winemaker and sit down to a special tasting from their mirador overlooking the valley.
Up the road, meet out friend who’s a passionate artisan cheese maker and gifted cook. Let her show you her dairy farm and how the addictive manjar (milk caramel), jams, and exquisite fresh and mature cheeses are hand made every day. You can even feed the baby calves with a bottle! Join with her in a casual tasting of her products with fresh juices followed by a private, traditional asado, barbeque lunch, in their shady native garden. This is as local as it gets! Transfer back to Santiago in the mid-afternoon with drop-off at the international airport for departure.