Tastings, gastronomy, and much more

An antique train crosses towns, vineyards, and astronomy observatories. A glass finds its way into your hand and the land speaks through the wine.

Viña Concha y Toro
Viña Concha y Toro (Photo: Turismo Chile)

Over the last few years the expansion of Chilean wine has given rise to a series of routes that connect these winemakers and create circuits that offer visitors much more.

They are the Wine Routes, with tours of vineyards where you can learn about the wines’ production processes and taste some of the main varieties of each grape. Each of the routes holds secrets: boutique hotels, tours in old trains or on mountain bikes through the vines, restaurants where the blending takes place and the traditional wine harvest celebrations in the autumn.

Maipo Valley wine route: The upper Maipo wine route currently includes seven vineyards: El Principal, La Montaña, Huelquén, Hacienda Chada, Portal del Alto, Pérez Cruz and Haras de Pirque. This is an interesting area to visit because of its architecture and the chance to visit the handcraft centers that are connected to different vineyards. Good food can also be found.

Casablanca Valley wine route: This valley, located halfway down the highway that connects Santiago and Viña del Mar has over 4,500 hectares of vineyards. It is famous for producing the country’s best white wines, especially the varietals Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir red wine is also important. There are many vineyards in Casablanca and almost all of them have visitor centers, restaurants and even museums. Some of them include: Matetic, Veramonte, Emiliana, Catrala, Indómita. A special tip: the vineyard Casas del Bosque has the Tanino Wine Bar & Lounge, which is ideal for a stop in the evening after a visit to the area. For lunch the restaurant Equilibrio in the Matetic vineyard is recommended.

Colchagua Valley wine route: The star attraction here is the Wine Train: a beautiful old steam locomotive that departs from the San Fernando station every Saturday. There are dozens of vineyards in Colchagua. Some of them are: Casa Lapostolle, Bisquertt, Cono Sur, Casa Silva, Estampa, Laura Hartwig, Montes, MontGrass, Luis Felipe Edwards, Macaya and Santa Cruz. The last of these has a restaurant atop Cerro Chamán, which can be reached via a cable car to the summit. The Cerro Chamán Observatory is also there for stargazing at night. The ideal place to stay in Santa Cruz is the Hotel Santa Cruz. In addition, the region has several boutique hotels, including the Hotel Vendimia and the Hotel Residencia Historic de Marchigue.

Santiago Classics

Santiago also has a wine culture. In just a few hours you can get to know several of the most emblematic vineyards.

Concha y Toro vineyard: Founded by the mining magnate Francisco Subercaseaux, though the wine business was developed many years later by his nephew Don Melchor Concha y Toro. A real visionary, he not only imported new grape varieties from Europe, but also the technology to begin producing stupendous wines. This entire past can be observed on the ground and, of course, you can visit the fantastic gardens and try some of its most famous wines. Concha y Toro, Avenida. Virginia Subercaseaux 210, Pirque. Phone. 2- 8530042

Cousiño Macul vineyard: The entrance to the lagoon of this vineyard is flanked by an iron gate featuring the figures of Adam and Eve. The message is clear: the entrance to Paradise. And why not, if the monumental park, which summarizes the good life of the Chilean aristocracy in the 19th century, transmits all of the serenity and splendor that is now cared for by eight full-time gardeners? Bought in 1856 by the wealthy coal entrepreneur Matías Cousiño with the idea of building a monumental park, what was once a fertile Incan farm soon became a beautiful vineyard. By then the French landscaper Gustave Renner had already created an impressive 24-hectare park in which one can still see a Lebanese cypress so wide that it takes nine people to surround it.

There are also ginkgos, oaks, ceibas, sequoias, and magnolia glandiflora, all of which was once admired by the French writer Albert Camus himself. While the most important thing is the wine, all tours of the vineyard consider tours of the gardens prior to visiting the main wine cellar and the tasting of truly exquisite wines like the exclusive Cousiño Macul Almaviva Cabernet. Avenida. Quilín 7100. Phone. 2-3514100.