Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.Benjamin Disraeli
After a few days in the city, we needed a break so we planned a day trip wine tasting! Chile has a few regions that are famous for wine tourism. Casablanca Valley to the west of Santiago is known for oaky chardonnays and dry pinot noirs, and a few hours south of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley is known for their reds, particularly carmenere, cabernet sauvignon and syrah.
Marc, Mom & Dad Mckinnie and I all prefer reds so we booked a weekend tour.
The company picked us up in a chauffeured van in the morning and we made our way south, with a little pit stop for coffee and snacks.
Our experience of wine tourism in Chile was different than our past experiences in California. In California the focus is on the tasting, while in Chile the focus is really on touring the facilities and learning about the full process. This meant that we only had time to tour two wineries, Montes Winery & Lapostale.
The thing that striked me the most was the architecture of these two wineries. Marc’s pictures capture it pretty well. Both are really picturesque and use gravity in different innovative ways in their wine making process.
The architecture at the Montes winery incorporated a lot of feng shui concepts into the layout and decoration, lots of fountains, wood accents and attention to window & door orientation. One thing that I thought was really interesting was the way they use gravity to break the grapes prior to the fermentation process, rather than smashing the grapes with a press. The building has holes built into the roof above each of the fermentation barrels. When it’s time to start the process, all the grapes are harvested and brought to the roof. That’s when the are mixed with sheets of dry ice and then dropped through the holes into he barrels below. This breaks the skins to help develop deep red color, but doesn’t break the grape seeds which helps reduce tannins in the final product. Carmenere is known for being smooth and light on the tannin. Another interesting thing Montes does, is they play music for the wine in the aging cellar. I wish I had caught a video of it. They say the light vibrations of the sound waves does something in the aging process.
After a nice lunch (and my first attempt at drinking Pisco straight), we headed to the next destination.
Our driver described the Lapostale winery as something straight from a James Bond Movie. The grounds are beautiful, but the really interesting characteristic of this winery is that the building is built vertically so that each step of the process uses gravity to move the liquid from stage to stage, rather than using pumps. We progressed through each floor and ended in the chilly aging cellar for the tasting. Our guide provided blankets and told us all about the different varietals.
We didn’t end up purchasing any bottles because he let us know we could easily find them back in the states in both Costco and Bevmo. Sweet, saved me from adding one more thing to my increasing stuffed bag. 🙂