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The Wine Roads Of Chile

October 13, 2015 Chile & Easter Island, South America

Central Valley, Chile

Winemaking was brought to Chile by the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries, who cultivate the grape for sacramental purposes, but the wines really came into their own when noble French cuttings were planted in the mid-19th century. Chile escaped the plagues that later blighted France’s vines; it is the only country besides Australia still planted with its original rootstock.

The fifth-largest exporter in the world, Chile has plenty of traditional wineries on century-old, hacienda-like properties, such as Cousino Macul, Errazuriz, and Concha y Toro. But it is home to many boutique wineries too. Which produce some of the country’s most exciting varieties, such as Clos Apalta, Altair, Casa Marin, Almaviva, and Neyen. The principal wine regions, from north to south, are the Aconcagua, Casablanca, Maipo, Colchagua, and Maule, which together from the Central Valley, or Valle Central, region. Colchagua, located near the Pacific, is renowned for its chardonnay and sauvignon blanc; Colchagua, for bold reds that include cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, and syrah; and Maipo, Chile’s oldest wine valley, located on the outskirts of Santiago, for its cabernet sauvignons.
It’s easy to visit vineyards on a day trip from Santiago, but anyone with the time should consider spending the night. The earthquake that struck central Chile in 2010 took its toll on wine production here and closed some of the hotels temporarily, but most reopened quickly with refreshed and updated amenities and services.

Colchagua is often compared to the Napa Valley of California. The low, vineyard-covered hills with their traditional finca homesteads boast some 56,700 acres of vines and some of the best wineries in Chile. This area also has the best touring infrastructure and lodging options. For contemporary ambience, Casa Lapostolle is an exclusive gateway set on the grounds of the state-of-the-art Clos Apalta winery. One of the country’s most distinctive hotels, it is composed of four casitas named for the primary red grape varieties on the property. The Colonial-style Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza is located on the attractive main square of that town, the epicentre of the valley’s winemaking and vineyard-touring scene. The Spanish-inspired property, with wrought-iron details and heavy chandeliers, has 116 rooms situated around a large common area, an outdoor swimming pool, a spa with an impressive menu of treatments, and a well-stocked wine cellar. Its owner, Carlos Cardoen, is the force behind the spectacular Colchagua Museum, the largest private museum in Chile.

WHERE: Santa Curz is 112 miles/180 km southwest of Santiago.
BEST TIME: Oct – Apr for nicest weather; mid-Feb – Apr for harvest; Mar for Fiesta de la Vendimia wine festival in Santa Cruz.
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