Located just an hours drive away from Santiago, Casablanca Valley, although fairly new, is one of Chile’s best wine regions. The first and only cool-climate wine producing region, Casablanca is blessed with a Mediterranean climate — a hot-bed for aromatic and flavorful grapes, thus producing rich, decadent wines.
Taking a Casablanca Valley wine tour should be at the top of anyone’s list. The combination of scenic Chilean countryside and divine, locally-produced wine creates an experience that is unique to the valley. Read on to find out everything you need to know about Casablanca Valley, including our recommendations of where to visit.
With a plethora of eligible places to choose from, it’s difficult to make a pick. Hence, we’ve done the legwork for you. Below are our picks for the best wine-tasting spots in Casablanca Valley, listed on no particular order.
1. Emiliana Organic Vineyards
Aside from crafting excellent wines, sustainability and environmental-friendly production are what the folks at Emiliana are all about. Their organic and biodynamic agriculture produces a healthy and balanced vineyard, which in turn, helps them to create some stellar vinos. This winery also offers chocolate and cheese pairings with their tour. There’s even a chance to take a “make-your-own-wine” class — sign us up!
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday. Summer (December – March) 10:00 – 18:00, winter (April – November) 10:00 – 17:00.
- Tour details: Tours are offered four times a day, each lasting 30 minutes, followed by a tasting of four different signature wines.
- Wine to taste: Coyam and Gê
2. Quintay Wine Estate
Photo credit: Quintay Wine Estate
The small, cozy winery, known for their two lines of wine, Quintay Q and Clava, places a lot of emphasis on the ever-so-precise production of their sauvignon blanc. In fact, this vineyard was opened with the goal to produce to best sauvignon blanc in the region. The names Clava and Quintay pay homage to the original settlers of Casablanca Valley. At this estate, culture meets history meets wine meets environment. The vineyard also recycles 100% of its harvest water and reuses it for irrigation.
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 9:30 – 18:00, Sundays: 10:00 – 17:00.
- Tour details: 35, 60, and 75-minute tours depending on tour selection.
- Wine to taste: Quintay Q sauvignon blanc and the Clava pinot noir.
3. Casa Botha
Casa Botha is not really a winery, but it is still one of the best spots in Casablanca for a wine tasting. The restaurant is made from entirely recycled materials and runs on solar energy. The owners are expats from South Africa and have created an insanely original and scrumptious food menu composed of Italian/Chilean/South African fusion dishes. The wine comes with the food. The restaurant’s bar flaunts a plethora of hand-picked wines, a result of the owner David Botha’s excellent contacts in the region. This is the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch with select wines and warm hospitality.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 12:30 – 17:00
- Tour details: Only wine tasting and excellent food available. Definitely worth a stop as you won’t find anything else like this place in the area.
- Wine to taste: The owner will happily pair all your wine and food for you.
4. Kingston Family Vineyards
Photo credit: Kingston Family Vineyards
Originally a dairy and cattle ranch, the estate has been thriving under the Kingston name for five generations, since the early 1900s. Then, in 1998, Courtney Kingston convinced the family to plant vineyards on the farm as well. They bet on producing some of the best red wine in the region — at a time when Casablanca valley was known for its production of white wine. The first cases of pinot noir and syrah were produced in 2003, and the rich red wines, as well as some white wines, haven’t stopped flowing since.
- Opening hours: Upon reservations only.
- Tour details: Tours include a glass of wine while you view the operations, plus 4 more tastings
paired with local cheese and artisan chocolates. Tours are by appointment only.
- Wine to taste: Pinot noir, syrah, sauvignon blanc, rosé
5. Viñamar de Casablanca
This winery and vineyard is known for its production of sparkling wines. They even use yeast from the Champagne area in France, guaranteeing superiority. Viñamar also produces top quality chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, merlot, carmenère, and cabernet franc on its 274-hectare vineyard.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday. Summer (December – March) 10:00 – 18:30, winter (April – November) 10:00 – 17:30.
- Tour details: Guided tours offered between 10:00 – 4:00, followed by a tasting of the best sparkling wines.
- Wine to taste: Viñamar’s Extra Brut, and rosé (both sparkling and award-winning)
Spring (September – November) is a lovely time to visit because the vineyards and surrounding hills and mountains are a gorgeous emerald green and blooming with life. You can’t really go wrong with warm and sunny summer (December – March), either. The temperate weather is perfect for wandering around outdoor vineyards and a sipping wine on the wineries’ terraces.
If you have the choice, visit in early-summer to avoid the super high temperatures. It can sometimes reach 29 – 32°C (85 – 90°F) in January and February.
Take a bus from Santiago to Valparaiso. Just tell the driver which vineyard you’d like to visit and he or she will drop you at the entrance. All the wineries and vineyard are located on a 5km strip on the same side of Route 68, so accessing the others from your starting point is relatively easy once you’re there.
We recommend you buy a one-way ticket as you may be using a different bus company for your return.
Driving yourself is always an option, and can certainly be done as day trip from Santiago. Once out of Santiago, the 70km drive to destination is almost entirely on Route 68. However, don’t forget that with this option, you have to drink responsibly.
The most popular way to get from Santiago to Casablanca valley is via a day tour. This will certainly be the more expensive option, but it will include round trip transportation, visits to multiple wineries, lunch, and door-to-door service.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Casablanca Valley. The prices range from budget to mid-range to top of the line luxury. Check out our three best picks, one for each category:
1. Route68 Casablanca
One of the cheapest options in Casablanca Valley, Route68 Casablanca features simple rooms with just a bed and several other pieces of furniture, but the vibe is warm and cozy. There’s also a seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub. A picnic table style outdoor dining area rounds off the friendly atmosphere.
2. Hotel Casablanca Spa & Wine
This is one of the region’s best-selling accommodations. The whitewash and wooden contrast of the building’s construction is very appealing, as are the signature wide arch structures throughout the property. The stone and wooden pool and dining area is both elegant and comforting. Swimming pool, spa, sauna, gym, tennis court, and other facilities are available to all guests. Pay a little bit extra for a deluxe room, and get a bedside private hot tub. Room rates include breakfast and spa access.
3. The Cave of Wine
The Cave of Wine is one of the top-of-the-line accommodations in Casablanca Valley. You even get to sleep in wine cellar! Doesn’t that sound like the right thing to do smack dab in the middle of a world-famous wine region? The grey-stucco walls and the wrought-iron details are complimented nicely by the soft candlelight. The lofted ceiling and wooden stairs make this already spacious room seem giant. What’s more? A kitchenette, fridge, balcony, and above ground bathtub are all waiting for you. This quirky but quality accommodation is priced above average but it is definitely worth it.
Some visitors come to Casablanca Valley to sample wines, find out how exactly the wine they’re sipping is made, learn which wines pair nicely with which foods — basically the whole kit and caboodle. Others just want to enjoy a laid-back afternoon on a patio or bar stool, enjoying a variety of wines and perhaps purchasing a few bottles on their way out the door. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, the Casablanca wineries have a tour suited to your taste.
- Tasting: This is your basic show up — sample 3 or 4 of the winery’s best products, and hopefully buy a bottle or two before departing. Simple, straight-forward, and no organized tour or prior planning involved.
- Tour and tasting: Most of the vineyards and wineries have tour and tasting combinations. The tour kicks off with a guided walk around the vineyards and the manufacturing buildings. The experienced guide can tell you everything you need to know about how their wine is produced and answer any questions. The tours are always followed by a tasting of usually 3 – 4 different signature wines.
- Tour, tasting, and pairings: Add food pairings of cheeses and/or chocolates to you tasting. This little extra is worth it if you really want to get the most out of each wine you try. After the tour, the tasting commences and is complimented with cheese and chocolate. Yum.
- Tour, tasting, and lunch: These tours are followed by the tasting and food pairing, and then lunch. While most wineries have their own restaurant, some even lay out the option for a picnic lunch out in the vineyards.
- All the Casablanca wineries are off Route 68 within a 5km range. Perfect for winery-hopping!
- Casablanca is known for its white wine – particularly chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, as well as its pinot noir. Be sure to sample one of each!
- Some of the wineries’ restaurants can be expensive. Check the prices beforehand!
- Many of the wineries don’t require a reservation for tastings. Some don’t even require reservations for tours, but it’s best to call ahead if you’ve got a big group or if you’re visiting a smaller venue.
- Purchasing wine in Casablanca Valley (and Chile in general) is less expensive than it would be stateside. You can thank the ideal grape-growing conditions and low cost of labor for that!
Casablanca Valley may be new on the scene when compared to other experienced vineyards in Chile, but do not count it out. The region’s near-perfect grape-growing climate is responsible for its wines’ signature fruity flavor. Combine this with hectares of green fields, rolling hills, and an Andes Mountain backdrop and you’ve got the recipe for success.