Sunday, January 12, 2014

Better late than never...trip to Chile and Argentina, part 1 - Santa Cruz

So 10 months later, I thought maybe I'd post some photos of our last trip to Chile and Argentina .... luckily pictures and memories don't go bad!  We were in both countries a total of 10 days - Santa Cruz and Santiago, Chile, then Mendoza and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I'm planning to do 4 posts, one for each part of the trip...

First up, Chilean wine country!

We were delayed coming out of DC to Miami, and had to literally sprint through the Miami airport to make our flight to Santiago...luckily we made it, and were greeted with a much needed glass of champagne!  

Overnight flight, landed in Santiago, rented a car and drove wine country, of course! 

Our first stop was Antiyal Winery in the Maipo Valley.  They are a small biodynamic winery off of a very long, poorly marked dirt road.  But it was worth it once we found them!

Antiyal means “sons of the sun” in the native Chilean language Mapuche.  They were the 'original' garage winery in Chile.   

Gorgeous views...trying to not be worried that my suitcase wasn't on our plane...that'll teach me to check a bag! 

Tasting followed by gorgeous lunch at Casa Silva in the Colchagua Valley, overlooking their beautiful polo fields.  We spent 3 days trying to say 'Colchagua' correctly - it's harder than it looks! 

Our hotel in Santa Cruz, Hotel Terra Vina, was great, and a beautiful setting - right in the middle of vineyards!  

We spent 2 nights in Santa Cruz, so had about 3 days of wine touring.  Driving around the area was easy with well marked streets and maps to help.  

Santa Cruz was a tiny little town, without much going on around it...but luckily there was a wonderful restaurant within walking distance, just through the vineyards!  We ate at Vino Bella both nights that we were in Santa Cruz...and I think most people who stay at the hotel do the same. 

Day 2, winery tour at Montes winery

We loved all of their wines - and the girl told us that we shouldn't buy them from her, wait and buy them here, at Costco!  Costco is their largest buyer, and their wines are cheaper here - so be on the lookout!

The facilities were incredible at so many of these wineries.  Huge, modern, beautiful buildings on gorgeous vineyards. 

Santa Cruz and Chilean wine country was one of the favorite parts of our trip - I highly recommend visiting the area if you're considering a trip to South America.  The wineries are gorgeous, very high class, and all have someone who speaks English.  Because of this, most of them do require a reservation, so keep this in mind.  

Lunch and tasting at Viu Manent

We headed back to the hotel, and after another short walk, ended up at Laura Hartwig winery for the last tasting of the day. 

We actually found a bottle of this wine on the list at Range in DC - we were very surprised and excited, and the sommelier was as surprised as we were when we told him we had been there.  Of course we had to get it - it's delicious, and was a steal at $27 in the restaurant!

Day 3, one more stop for a tour and tasting at Vina Perez Cruz on our way north to Santiago.

Their winery was incredible.  According to their website:  "The building was designed to harmonize the structure with nature.  The entire building was made of radiata pine, a renewable resource whose use does not harm the environment.  The arches imitate the branches of the trees on the site and allows the wind to pass through, evoking the sensation of wind in the trees."  It was really a sight to see...

Carmenere is Chile's signature red grape, and we fell in love with it.  Come to find out, it was originally a well known French grape that somehow disappeared there, and reappeared in Chile.  Most of the wineries we visited had it either blended with others or by itself - you can find it here in the states, so I definitely suggest checking a few out!  It is big and bold, similar to a Malbec or Syrah.

After a beautiful and warm few days in Chilean wine country, we were heading to Santiago to explore the city...and hopefully track down my suitcase...or at least go shopping!

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