Published: June 26th 2012June 6th 2012
Today was going to be a good day. The sun was out, the scenery was beautiful and we were on our way to drink some wine.
Having boarded a local bus in town, we were suddenly thrust into some stunning surroundings on our way to Fue Manet, our first of three wineries here in the Santa Cruz region of Chile. Although many a bottle had been shared between the three of us in the past back home, we had never been on a tour of a vineyard together and therefore we were really looking forward to this experience.
Having been dropped off outside the vineyard, we made our way to the entrance where the tour would begin. Being a little early for the tour, we were able to soak up the atmosphere of the place within the courtyard of the grounds which were awesome with their traditional look and picturesque views of the winery.
After a brief talk about the history of the vineyard from our guide, we were suddenly escorted to a traditional horse and cart where we were trotted through the grapevines on our way to the main building where the wine is
held and eventually barrelled. A quirk that none of us had ever experience before whilst touring a vineyard! Once in the production warehouse, we were given a thorough tour throughout the workings of the vineyard, whilst in another unusual twist, we were allowed to swig wine direct from the huge stainless steel vats where the wine was fermenting. Despite the wine still being cloudy, it was delicious and after having out tastebuds enticed and tickled, we were eager to get to the tasting and see what other delights were on offer here.
So, after a truly interesting and informative tour, we were in the tasting room ready to try a few of Fue Manets finest, and we were not disappointed. All 4 of the wines that we tried were fantastic, and we were just sad we couldn’t buy a bottle of each to take with us. Instead, we decided to sample a couple of bottles outside the vineyards café, where in awe, we watched the day fade into night over the stunning Colchagua valley. As predicted, it was indeed a good day!
After packing our bags and taking one last ant infested shower, it was
finally time to say good-bye to Maria and her bizarre world. It had been a strange place to stay, however I think we all saw the funny side of it, and in the end, we were all glad we stayed. Our next stop was onto a Posada outside of Santa Cruz in the heart of the wine region, and after a rather unhealthy Cheesecake breakfast back at our favourite café, we caught a cab to our new home for the day.
A beautiful room, stunning views, a pool, and a friendly manageress… this was our place for the night, and this was more like it! It was a shame we had any plans for the day as we could have easily stayed here and lapped up the sun whilst chilling by the pool for the day. Saying that however, as wine tasting was the activity for the day, none of us were complaining too much. Mont Gras winery was a little over 5km from our Posada, and since we were given the go ahead to use the bikes that were parked outside our hotel, we felt it would be silly not to. Donna and I climbed on the mountain
bikes that were available leaving Lisa with the 6 geared retro ‘Bianca’ (I think that’s what they used to be called?), and we headed off towards the horizon. The ride to the winery was great as there were no real hills to speak of, the scenery was fantastic and we only passed a handful of cars. When Donna and I finally arrived at Mont Gras, we were surprised to see Lisa dragging her heels some way behind us. When Lisa pulled up to the gate, she looked surprisingly tired, but we assumed this was just down to the heat and the fact that she had not ridden a bike for a while.
We signed up to the tour that was taking place in 15 minutes or so which gave us a little time to look around the place and take in its colonial architecture and serene ambience. When it was time for the tour, we were met by a really friendly guide who’s English was impeccable – Christian. His tour was both interesting and informative, and after we had been shown the vines and tasted some of the grapes, as well as getting a low down on the history
of Mont Gras, it was time for the tasting. Here, the conversation between us was flowing as Christian shared interests with the three of us including English football, music and of course, wine. I think because of the ease that the wine was going down as well as the way the conversation was flowing, we may well have accidentally committed to all going to Brazil in 2014 together in order to watch the world cup…Whoops!!
Christian, if you are reading this, Thanks for the great day, the Mana CD, and see you in 2 years!
Having bought a couple of bottles from the store after our tour, it was time to attempt to ride back to the Posada. By now, we had had a fair few drinkies and were probably a little over the cycling drink limit, however due to the lack of cars on the road, we were confident we would be fine. Since Lisa had such a tough time on the way here and because the wine needed to go in the front basket of the Bianca, I put my vanity aside and agreed to ride the girls bike back. After just 2 minutes into the
ride I immediately realised that Lisa was not in fact unfit, but the bike was truly awful to ride. Sorry Lisa, your bike riding skills will not be doubted again……..
*CRASH*… what the hell was that? As Donna and I slowed down to look behind us, there was Lisa a heap on the ground. As we stopped and turned around , Lisa was brushing herself down and getting back on her bike. ‘What happened, are you alright?’ we asked. Since Lisa was laughing and a little embarrassed, Donna and I couldn’t help but have a little chuckle as we assumed straight away that Lisa had stacked it on the bike due to being drunk. It turns out that it wasn’t the wine that was the cause of Lisa’s tumble (although I maintain it was certainly a factor), but the fact that Lisa was trying to get a picture of us cycling back from the vineyard during sunset. The cuts and bruises that Lisa suffered (bravely I might add) would have to take the place of a photo to remind her of this great day!
We decided to finish this fantastic day off by drinking the bottles of wine
we had purchased from Mont Gras whilst eating a home cooked pasta dinner that I was happy to make. Once in the kitchen, I think the three friendly ladies from the hotel pitied me when they saw my half drunken attepmt at making the pasta. Then, like having 3 Nans they took to making the dinner for me despite my pleas that I was fine and could make it myself. They clearly felt otherwise! Along with the wine, it was one of the best pastas I have never made.
After having stayed in the awesome Posada, we were reluctant to move back to Santa Cruz, however due to availability issues, there was no way we could stay there another night. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go back to Maria’s funhouse, and instead, we made our way to the Colchagua hostel that we had pre booked. After chilling in their outside area for a while it was time to go to our third and final winery of our time in Santa Cruz – Lapostelle.
As there was no local bus here, or any bikes that we could use in order to get there, we decided to take
a local cab. Once again the ride there was exceptional due to the amazing vineyards and the mountains that surrounded the valley. Once there, we were amazed by how modern this place was in comparison to the previous vineyards with it’s super innovative structure and attached hotel / restaurant. On the tour of the place however, we were surprised to learn that although the building and equipment were modern, they kept all of the procedures fairly old school such as picking the grapes by hand - a nice touch we felt.
The tasting room here was unlike any of the others we had seen so far and the word impressive is actually a huge understatement. Unable to do it justice with words, I hope the photos give you an indication as to how awesome it was which complimented the gorgeous wines that we tasted here.
So, after yet another great experience in a vineyard, we got back to Santa Cruz and went to both a Sushi place followed by a Casino…both strange establishments in a town like Santa Cruz, however we thought…why not!
Our time here in Santa Cruz and the vineyards had been awesome and we
enjoyed every moment, but it was time to move on to our next destination. So, after walking with our packs to the bus station, we bought three tickets to Pichilemu and boarded the bus. After having been in Latin America for nearly 8 months now, we thought we had seen everything there was to see on buses, and so 5 minutes before we were due to leave we were surprised when a couple of clowns (proper clowns with make-up, big shoes and huge pants etc) boarded the small bus and gave us a random little Spanish routine, none of which we could make out!
Gotta love Latin American buses….. wonders never cease!
There are more photos below