Home is Where Wine is

I’m going to preface this next statement by letting everyone know that I understand how ridiculous it sounds. I look back on pictures and am already jealous of my past self’s travels, even though I am currently traveling.  I do this for special instances that have really stuck with me or places that I’ve really loved. I think it is good to consistently look back and appreciate the things that I’ve done so that I can continue and become excited to look forwards.  

The past week or two I have been reliving our friend’s Nina and Zach’s visit and feeling very jealous of my past self.  It was so wonderful to see familiar faces and be around people that I’m comfortable with after approximately 3 months of consistently meeting new people only.  Not only that, I forgot how much fun it is to travel with friends!  I truly believe sharing these sorts of foreign experiences together really creates a new and stronger bond between people (especially if you travel as well with these said friends as Dan and I did with the Kovacks).  It gave us a little taste of home (especially because we were brought 10 pounds of gummies raspberries, worms, and bears!). 

While reminiscing on our short but fun filled week, I realized my favorite parts of their visit was the time we spent at the vineyards.  Not only because we were drinking delicious wine on these massive estates, but for two other very important reasons. One, it was an excellent opportunity for us to sit, relax, and bond over multiple glasses of wine while the rest of the week consisted more of running around and sight seeing.  It was nice to have some quiet time with them and catch up.  And two, we didn’t really know the logistics of getting to any of the vineyards or much about them, so everything was a surprise that we had to come together on and figure out.  Which we did!

With that being said, I would like to relive in this post the 6 Chilean Vineyards that we visited together.  I also hope that maybe it will serve as a source for anyone else who is looking to do this because getting around to the wineries weren’t as easy as we thought without having someone drink and drive our rental car. 

On the two hour drive between Santiago and Valparaiso, there is a wine region called the Casablanca Valley.  It is one of, if not the newest region in Chile as vines were first planted there in the 1980’s.  This region is best known for it’s white wines – Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (two of my absolute favorites).  Knowing how much Nina loves wine too, I knew we had to make a couple of pit stops on the way even though it wasn’t necessarily part of our “vineyard tour”.  

During the drive, Nina simply got on Google as we reached the Casablanca Valley and choose Viña Indomita.  We turned off the highway onto a side road to reach it and ended up at these gates:

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Realizing we were not at the right vineyard, we did not even care because it was so breathtaking.  We all hopped out of the car to take a selfie (with the phones on the car windshield) in front of the gates.  We were at Viña Mar Winery.  Upon entering this amazing estate like building, we choose to do a tasting of 3 wines which the staff set up for us on their outdoor patio for only 5,000 CLP which included our own private explanation of the valley, the vineyard, and the wines (no reservation or anything needed, there was hardly anyone there!)  

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Although the pours were generous, we still had an itch to check out Viña Indomita because a) the pictures looked incredible online and b) we needed some lunch to soak up the wine. Luckily we weren’t too far off track when we pulled into Viña Mar because the wineries are literally right next to each other.

It was like driving up to a castle and a quaint winery all at the same time.  I could feel the excitement in the car as we drove up the windy road through the grape vines and caught incredible views of the valley below.  Like Viña Mar, Viña Indomita was pretty much empty and we had no problem grabbing a table on their patio, sharing a bottle of their cheapest Sauvignon Blanc, and eating a quick lunch.

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The best lunch view and company I’ve had in a long time.  Currently jealous of this Christie.

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During our planning of Nina and Zach’s visit, we had agreed to visit the Colchagua Valley and explore the vineyards there for their final two days since Nina’s favorite, Los Vascos, is located there.  We based ourselves at an AirBnb in Santa Cruz and figured it should be easy to get a taxi or hire a driver to take us to the vineyards which are all located outside of Santa Cruz. WRONG. We quickly learned that Santa Cruz and these vineyards really don’t receive much tourism. Therefore, there aren’t readily available taxis driving around or colectivos or buses that take you directly to the wineries.  The small amount of tourism was great for us on one hand, but on the other, it was kind of a pain since Dan ended up having to drive us to Los Vascos on the first day.

For the second day (and full day of wineries and drinking) however, I received a phone number for a colectivo driver named Luis (go to the tourist information booth in the Plaza de Armas in Santa Cruz and ask for his card).   He ended up being a God send!  He would drive us to one winery and then we’d call him when we were ready to be picked up and go to the next one.  He only charged us 14,000 CLP for three rides and the entire day.

Okay, back to wine.  So on the first day, we booked a tour and tasting at Los Vascos.  In the Colchagua Valley, it is necessary to book tours in advance but for tastings you can show up without a reservation.  Again, we decided Los Vascos would be the only actual tour we did (we were more concerned with the drinking aspect of it all) and it was completely worth it. It ended up being a totally private tour of their facility (which is huge and quite impressive) and our guide was very nice, spoke English, and I think gave us a little extra wine during the tastings.  The scenery in the Colchagua Valley is stunning as seen below.

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Day two in the Colchagua Valley was easily my favorite of the visit.  We planned for Luis to pick us up in the Plaza de Armas at 12 p.m. and first drop us off at Estampa just outside of town.

Walking into Estampa felt like a dream.  It is this beautiful building on a large plot of land surrounded by vineyards, with a huge wine bottle branding their label sticking out in the middle.   We first opted to do a tasting where each of us ordered a wine, tried them, and then bought a bottle to share on their patio.  We ended up ordering the bottle of Rosé which was a wonderful switch up to all of the Chilean reds I’ve been drinking recently.

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Thanks Nin for teaching me your photo taking ways.

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After drinking our fill at Estampa, we decided to check out Montes which was about a 10-15 minute drive from Estampa.  I seriously wish I could post a video of our taxi ride to Montes; we were jamming out to some Spanish tunes with Luis and Dan was making best friends with him.  I was so happy we found him to drive us around!

The Montes grounds are insanely gorgeous.  It is nestled right up next to a mountainside which makes for not so bad views while you are getting drunk on wine.  Once again, we decided to skip the tour and just order bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay while sitting on their patio staring at the mountains.

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Unbeknownst to us,  Montes and many other wineries apparently close at 5 p.m.  We reluctantly left our mountain views and good conversation.  Not feeling ready to call it a day yet, we checked to see if any other wineries were open past 5 p.m.  Luckily, Laura Hartwig (very walkable from Santa Cruz) was open until 7 p.m.  And I say “luckily” not just because we didn’t want to be done drinking but because it was my favorite wine and winery that we visited.  Located down a dirt road and next to a horse ranch, Laura Hartwig has a boutique feel to it.  The other wineries were incredible but more grandiose.  I loved the small, welcoming atmosphere of Laura’s and the Cabernet Sauvignon is something I will be looking for when I return to the USA.

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Now you can all see why I was so jealous of my past self and will probably continue to be forever, I truly loved all of the wineries we visited and even more so because they were all different in their own ways.  It was also great to spend such wonderful time with our friends doing something that we all really enjoyed.  Wine never felt so much like home!

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3 thoughts on “Home is Where Wine is

  1. I can’t stop looking at that picture of Zach with the little wines all over his mouth! These places don’t even look real – and I think this is one of those experiences you’ll probably be jealous of your past self for years to come. Wine + Friends + a beautiful place = the stuff dreams are made of.

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