I’ve been looking forward to talking wine!
When planning our recent trip to central Chile, visiting some local wineries was at the top of my list. We debated about the area in which to visit, as there are numerous wineries across several valleys in central Chile. Some are closer to the coast or the mountains, yet several are easily accessible via public transportation from Santiago, Chile’s capitol.
After some research (we researched wineries more than any other part of our trip!) and recommendations from my sister’s friends we finally settled on two wineries near to one another and accessible from Santiago. On Thanksgiving day in US we took our day trip to the edge of town to taste and learn about Chilean wine.
Our first stop was Viña Consiño Macaul, one of the oldest wineries in Central Chile and filled with history. For about $50 USD we signed up for a bike tour through the vineyards with La Bicicleta Verde, another recommendation from a couple we had met earlier in the trip. It look us about 45 minutest to get from our central Santiago Airbnb to the vineyard but it felt like we were so much further away, not in another part of the city.
We spent a lovely hour riding through rows of grapes, stopping to take in the sights of both the city and the mountains, and learning more about the history of wine in the region. Central Chile is so great for wine production because it has the “big 3,” soil, sun, and humidity. The region also experiences about 9 months of the year with great sunlight for growing. During our tour we learned that Viña Consiño Macaul had a section of 84 year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines, a vine that typically only produces good grapes for about 30 years!
Half way through our ride we stopped to enjoy our favorite wine of the tour, the light and refreshing Pino Gris. It was really a great wine to drink under the shade of an old willow tree with the view of the Andes mountains on a warm Thanksgiving day. Though, really any wine could have been good in that ambiance.
After cycling, we took a tour of the production facility, the gorgeous stone cellar underground filled with vintage bottles of wine, and then finally sat on the patio tasting more wine with really great bread to cleanse our palate. We met really great people from around the world on our tour and had pleasant company while sipping on delicious red and white wines.
Our next stop was Viña Aquatania, a small boutique winery about 5 minutes from the first, with incredible views of the Andes Mountains. We were lucky to visit on a clear day and our taxi driver was nice enough to let us stop for an empanada on the way. We arrived, sat in the garden, beneath walnut trees, and enjoyed our picnic lunch. It was just about perfect.
The tour at Viña Aquatania was the best I’ve ever been on. Our tour guide was kind, passionate, open to questions, and knowledgable. I learned more than I ever had about wine. This winery had a strong French influence, with 3 of the owners being French, and the head winemaker having studied in France. We all thought we should have studied wine making in college instead of our majors!
Our group of three was accompanied by a couple from Belgium, creating an intimate and comfortable tour of the production facility. One of our favorite parts was climbing to the outlook above the building to look out and see the mountains on one side and central Santiago on the other. I’m not sure I will get over how amazing that was.
Behind a huge and gorgeous wooden door we saw the storage and packaging facility. The winery seals and labels every single bottle by hand, shipping them all over the world. We ended our afternoon back under the walnut trees, sipping tastings (really almost full glasses) of several of the wines from Viña Aquatania. We loved the variety from fresh and fruity rosé to a deep yet smooth Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine tasting might just need to become our new Thanksgiving day tradition. Salud!
Special thanks to my lovely sister and best friend for adding to a lovely day and contributing some of the photos.