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Published: August 12th 2016
The Colchagua Valley, a 3 hour bus ride south of Santiago, is often visited on a day tour from the capital. Santa Cruz, the principal town, has pretty poor accommodations unless you're willing to splurge, but Peggy and I found a private apartment in town on Airbnb that was suficiente. The town itself was pretty ordinary, especially in the low tourist season (early August). We hired a cab for 30,000 for the day (42 dollars) and visited 3 wineries:
Peggy arranged a wine tour here, and since it was low season and we requested an English tour, it was just the guide and us. The guide looked half our age but was surprisingly knowledgable; his youthfulness translated into being a wine fanatic. Thankfully, he didn't concentrate on the separating of grapes or the process of the grapes becoming wine (like many of the wineries in Argentina did, and that anyone could look up on Wikipedia), but rather on their vineyards and aging process. The winery is in a sleek and classy building and the tasting rooms overlook the barrels that are arranged in an amphitheater complete with feng shui harmony (see photo below), including a fountain and
a recording of Gregorian chants.
Viu de Manent (http://www.viumanent.cl/en/)
We went here for lunch. The food was pretty impressive and, as it was warm enough to sit outside, the views of the polo grounds and surrounding mountains were spectacular. The reservations we made were unneeded, as the restaurant was practically empty.
This winery focuses on its blends, and on being very specific about percentages. Apparently, if 75% of a wine is from a Cabernet Sauvingon, or a Malbec, or whatever grape, it can be labelled as such. In other countries it's a little higher (80%), and apparently in France, many of the blends have well enough known percentages that there's no need to label the details, but this winery breaks it down even to the smallest percentages. We were the only visitors and got a private tasting in a small tasting area near the entrance. The sommelier said that they don't accept tour buses or groups, and that the winery is more of a hobby for the owner.
Getting the wine back to the States was an ordeal. We stuffed 10 bottles into a suitcase on wheels, padded each bottle with bubble wrap
and extra clothes, and labeled it "fragil," but the pissants still broke two of the bottles (shattered, I should say, as some of the glass was pulverized, showing they must have dropped it from pretty high), making for quite a mess to clean up in the Houston customs area. I got questioned about the number of bottles by someone who seemed to be a new agent, and someone else came over to tell him to just let me through (the paperwork and cost seemed to be more work than it was worth for them).
There are more photos below.
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