Colchagua, a wine tourism paradise
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Recognised worldwide as one of Chile's best wine producing areas and one of the top wine tourism destinations, the Colchagua Valley is a paradise filled with the finest Chilean wines.
Located just over 130 km from Santiago, Chile, the Colchagua Valley is home to some of the world's most famous wines and is best known for the quality of its Cabernet, Carmenere, Syrah and Malbec wines. The best thing about the Colchagua Valley is the diversity of its wineries, which makes the region one of the top wine tourism destinations in Chile.
In 2005, the Colchagua Valley was named the best wine region in the world thanks to the centuries-old vineyards and charming wineries that are part of this wonderful valley south of Santiago.
In 2011, it was the turn of the American magazine Shermans Travel to choose the valley as the second best tourist destination connected to wine growing and production in the world. The valley turned out to be the perfect union between an important wine-producing region and a tourist destination. It currently has the best organised wine route in the country, which includes a fun excursion with the Flavours of the Valley train organised by the Wine Route.
How to get there
It is very easy to get to the Colchagua Valley from Santiago by car or private van, or by using the conventional trains of the EFE railway company that takes tourists to the city of San Fernando, where you can take a taxi or private bus to the city of Santa Cruz, the wine capital of the region.
What to do
There are countless attractions to visit in the Colchagua Valley, especially around the charming town of Santa Cruz. The landscape of the valley is already a great attraction with its green hills, its numerous vineyards and olive groves. Therefore, the wineries are undoubtedly the main attraction of the region. The visits are guided by friendly professionals, with a walk through the vineyards, introductory class on winemaking and of course, tasting of different wines.
In the heart of the small town of Santa Cruz, you will find a very nice square surrounded by craft shops, a big church and some small museums. Take a stroll through the town and don't forget to visit the Colchagua Museum, which is considered the largest private museum in Latin America.
The Viu Manent Winery is a must for tourists visiting the region. Within its tourist programme, it is possible to enjoy a wonderful horse-drawn carriage ride through the vineyards; and also to prestige a selection of the vineyard's best wines. In addition, the vineyard's restaurant, Rayuela Wine & Grill, offers one of the best gastronomic offers in the region.
Viña Viu Manent
The Ravanal Winery is a Chilean style house, where visitors can do tastings, harvest the grapes or make their own wine.
What to drink
Famous for its Carménère, the Colchagua Valley is dominated by reds, which occupy 90% of the 23,000 hectares planted. In this scenario, the biggest problem is to choose a few wines among all the options.
The Yelcho -Ventisquero Cabernet Sauvignon - Reserva especial: expressive in ripe red fruits such as raspberries and strawberries, blueberries and blackcurrants nuanced with notes of black pepper, tobacco, vanilla and chocolate. Balanced wine, good body and balanced acidity, with soft tannins, and good balance where the notes of red fruits and vanilla appear.
El Yelcho - Ventisquero - Carménère - Reserva especial: it is a deep red wine that highlights aromas of black and red fruits such as blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, strawberry and cherry, together with spicy notes that blend harmoniously with hints of chocolate and vanilla. It is a smooth and balanced wine, with ripe and velvety tannins that give it a persistent finish, where black fruits and chocolate reappear.
The white wine MontGras Reserva - Sauvignon Blanc is the great surprise of this journey of aromas and flavours. It surprises every traveller with its freshness. With a straw yellow colour with faint green notes, expressed in a nose full of grapefruit aromas with hints of peach and apple, framed with a subtle note of freshly cut grass. On the palate it is a sparkling, juicy wine, with notes of lime and passion fruit, delivered with a friendly, balanced texture.
Where to Eat
In between visits and tastings, there are excellent dining options in the Colchagua Valley that can satisfy even the most particular of tourists.
The Fuegos de Apalta at Viña Montes is a charming restaurant surrounded by vineyards and the surrounding horseshoe-shaped hills. It is one of the best restaurants in the valley with a focus on fire-grilled meats.
It's hard to find authentic Italian food outside of Italy, but the family-owned Vino Bello is surprising for the quality of its cuisine. Overlooking Laura Hartwig's vineyards, the open-air patio and plush seating encourage a three-hour lunch at the restaurant. If you are a lover of good meat, the Osso Bucco is delicious and goes perfectly with a red wine from the Colchagua Valley. Vino Bello is definitely a paradise for pasta lovers.
Don't forget to try the oysters at Rayuella Restaurant with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Where to sleep
Despite being a small town, there are plenty of places to stay in Santa Cruz. You can make your hotel reservations along with other reservations such as restaurant, wineries, tours, transportation, among others directly on the Wine Route website which recently launched its Portuguese language version to provide greater convenience to Portuguese speaking tourists, especially Brazilian tourists.
The Terravigna is a hidden gem located on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. Stuck in the middle of a vineyard, this hotel offers 19 rooms overlooking the valley and vineyards that will allow you to breathe fresh air, admiring the colours of the vines that are everywhere.
If you prefer to splurge, Lapostolle Residence is a luxury hotel in the Colchagua Valley. You can complete your reservation according to your preferences; breakfast, lunch, dinner, wine (Clos Apalta), outdoor activities, cycling or horse riding and visit to the Clos Apalta winery.
Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza is located in the city centre and has easy access to restaurants and the Colchagua Casino. Its attractive colonial style building, noble style, tradition and the history of old generations take tourists back to the Chile of 1850.
A trip to the Colchagua Valley is an unforgettable journey for wine lovers. From specialised wine shops to gourmet food. Colchagua is the epitome of the perfect wine pairing.