When I learned I would be visiting Chile again for a wedding, I knew a winery visit was definitely a must. Chile’s one of the top wine producing countries, and as a wine aficionado, visiting local wineries has always been on my Chile to do list. I’d been many times before, yet had never made a stop at one of the country’s many vineyards. This time it was a priority, and I couldn’t have been more excited. A few wine regions surround Santiago, the city that would serve as a home base of the trip. After a little research, I learned that there were many potential regions to visit. From the popular Maipo Valley to the San Antonio and Cachapoal Valleys, the options were vast. Since we were planning on making a day trip to Vina del Mar, the Casablanca Valley, situated northwest of the capital, was the perfect location. After reading online reviews, we settled on Casas del Bosque. We enlisted a few local friends, made reservations and planned to head towards the coast for a Sunday afternoon of wine tasting. We all attended a wedding the night before that ended at 5 a.m. (which the American in me was not used to!), so it was a little hard to rise and shine. The slow start to the morning, coupled with the long drive to Casablanca, meant we would probably miss our reservation. We decided to give the winery a call to inquire about other times. Luckily they were very accommodating and were able to a schedule our visit for a later time. We pulled up to Casas del Bosque in the late afternoon. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect. A short drive up the winding entryway revealed pretty vast grounds. Guests were relaxing in lounge chairs throughout the property, drinking wine and taking in the sunshine. We walked up to the main building to check in. Since we arrived later than planned (which is not uncommon for me, if you ask my friends), we opted out of the scheduled tour and decided to just do a tasting. It took place inside the 242 Aromnas Bar, and included samples of 4 wines. The four of us were seated with another party, which included some researchers from Cornell University. The wines included red and whites from the vineyard’s Reserva, Gran Reserva and Private Reserva lines. We were told the interesting story of the carmenere grape, beginning with its “exile” from France. It was looked over in favor of more popular grape varieties, and was brought to Chile. After being mistaken for Merlot for many years, producers realized they actually had carmenere grapes in the 1990s, and the majority of carmenere has been made in Chile ever since. Very informative, right? The tasting was fun, and my non wine-drinking husband even had a good time. My favorites had to be the carmenere and the sauvignon blanc, and we even took home a bottle of the latter.
After the tasting session, we were able to explore the wine cellar and walk around the grounds at our own pace. We also learned that the vineyard offered a few unique options. Their picnic experience provides a basket filled with food and wine that you can enjoy on the grounds, and a bike experience allows guests to bike throughout the winery. Definitely something I’d love to do on my next visit. Everyone we encountered was great, and despite our time crunch, we had a wonderful afternoon at the winery. More information can be found on their website, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit.