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The only thing better than spending the day surrounded by spectacular natural beauty is combining that experience with a glass of the world’s finest vino. The Colchagua Valley allows travellers to do just that — take in the great outdoors whilst sipping on a glass of mouth-watering Chilean wine.
Known as Chile’s Napa Valley for the stance this region has taken to promote wine tourism in the country, Colchagua Valley boasts some of the best wineries in the country and thus, some brilliant red wine varieties. Located just a short drive from Santiago, you can either take a day long wine tour in the valley or choose to extend it to weeks during your trip to Chile. Discover the art of turning a bunch of grapes into excellent bottled wine at Colchagua. To get started, here are 5 wineries in Colchagua Valley you must visit:
This gorgeous vineyard is a delight for any wine connoisseur. You will be taken into the magnificent barrel room in an open-air cart and allowed to admire the pride and joy of this wine estate. The ubiquitous angel motifs in the winery and on the wine label adds a lot of character to Montes winery. When you’re done sampling wine and exploring the winery, head to the Bistro Alfredo for a bite. Might as well accompany your lunch with some delectable wine too.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (9:00 to 18:00)
- Tour duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Wine to taste: Purple Angel
Photo credit: Clos Apalta
Clos Apalta is one of two wineries owned by Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle, a French-inspired brand based in Chile. Of the two estates, it is the only one that offers tours. And what an incredible tour it is! You will wander underground through the barrel rooms, taste some delicious wine, and visit a secret cellar. Once done, there are beautiful gardens and vineyards to explore, and scrumptious food to dine on. The wines that are produced here have garnered international acclaim – make some space for a bottle or two in your bag!
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (10:30 to 16:00)
- Tour duration: 1 hour
- Wine to taste: Borobó
This charming vineyard is located just outside of the city of Santa Cruz. Those wishing to explore this particular winery can base themselves in the city and visit the estate in a day trip. The area is decorated with facsimile Moai statues and is inhabited by llamas. A wine tour here also avails a cable car ride to the hilltop, where you will learn about Chile’s indigenous people and enjoy some spectacular views. The winery also features an observatory and offers stargazing tours from Wednesday to Saturday. Sip on one of their finest vinos while you are at it.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (10:00 to 17:00)
- Tour duration: 2 hours
- Wine to taste: Chaman
This iconic winery is considered the oldest and most traditional of its kind in the Colchagua Valley. It also has the added benefit of being completely stunning. The estate offers a number of different tours to suit a variety of tastes and interests. One of their most fascinating tour activity includes making your own wine! There is also a restaurant onsite, which serves a range of gourmet dishes. Accompany your lunch with a glass of their finest and relish!
- Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday (10:00 to 18:00)
- Tour duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Wine to taste: Dona Dominga
Photo credit: MontGras
Founded in 1993, the MontGras winery has come a long way in its 24 years of existence. Nowadays, the wine produced here is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. The modern winery is pleasantly juxtaposed with the gorgeous nature that surrounds it. If you have come with kids, there are plenty of activities to occupy them, including the chance to create their own wine labels. Adults can create their own blends, and during harvest visitors can pick and stomp the grapes.
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday (10:30 to 16:00) / Saturday, Sunday and certain holidays (10:30 to 15:30)
- Tour duration: Regular wine tasting tours lasts around 1 hour 30 minutes. But MontGras offers many more interesting programmes. The most popular ones are Tour and Tasting with Food Pairing, Make Your Own Wine, Blind Tastings and My Harvest starting on February till April. For more information check out MontGras.
- Wine to taste: Ninquén
Colchagua is a year-round destination for wine enthusiasts. However, October to May is perhaps the most desirable time to visit in terms of weather.
It may also be worth visiting during special occasions and festival times. At the beginning of March comes Vendimia, the region’s harvest festival, and November is when the Colchagua Jazz Festival takes place.
Situated two and half hours away from Santiago, Colchagua Valley feels like a different world altogether. The sweeping views of green hills, scenic valleys dotted with cottage-like wineries and charming vineyards is a contrasting setting to the bustling city of Santiago. Hence, a quick trip to Colchagua doesn’t require much thought.
- The easiest way to get to the Colchagua Valley is by booking a wine tour in Santiago. This will usually come with transportation so you won’t need to worry about making your own way there.
- If you want to get to the valley on your own and explore the wineries at your own pace, you can hire your own vehicle. There are plenty of car rental companies in Santiago to choose from. When hiring a car, read the agreement carefully to confirm insurance coverage, whether fuel is included, and others. If you can, splash out and go for a 4x4 as you will come up across some bumpy dirt roads that are best tackled with a sturdy car.
- Alternatively, you can travel by public transport. It is an inexpensive and comfortable option. The bus ride takes between 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic, and tickets range from USD 5 to 10*, depending on the day of the week, the bus company you choose and if it is a holiday. Buses for Colchagua leave from the Terminal Santiago, located next to Universidad de Santiago Metro Station. Keep in mind that Central Santiago has 2 bus terminals. Make sure you get to the correct terminal — the South Bus Terminal, which is 2 blocks from the metro station. You will be dropped in Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley.
While a visit to Colchagua Valley can be limited to a day, we highly recommend you spend at least 48 hours here. If you decide to take our advice, finding a place to stay the night should be a priority. Unfortunately, at the time of writing we could not recommend any budget accommodations, hence our top picks of places to stay in the region are hotels that lean towards luxury.
- Clos Apalta Residence
Joined onto the Clos Apalta Winery mentioned earlier, the Clos Apalta Residence is a five-star villa that you are sure to fall in love with. Located in the hillside with plenty of greenery around, the lodge exudes luxury and serenity. What’s more, guests can enjoy freshly prepared meals made with ingredients sourced from the hotel’s very own garden during their stay here. Don’t forget, an overnight stay means more wine.
- La Sara Hotel Boutique
Hidden away behind eucalyptus trees and blueberry plants is this beautiful little hotel. Comprising just four lavish rooms, La Sara provides each of its guests with a personal and intimate experience that will make their trip truly special. In the evenings, visitors can curl up and enjoy the hotel’s rustic vibe as they count the stars above.
- Casa Pando Bed and Wine
Once a farmhouse, this B&B is right in the heart of wine country in the Colchagua Valley. The rooms are simple but comfortable and exceptionally cozy. Each morning, guests can enjoy their breakfast in the quaint dining room, looking out over the pool. The owner has an extensive knowledge of wine and often puts on seminars for the guests. However, the establishment doesn’t allow children, so find another accommodation if you are travelling with your kids.
The majority of people that go to the Colchagua Valley to experience the wines will do so as a day trip. This means arriving at the winery, exploring and sampling wines for a few hours and then leaving. But, that’s not the only activity offered in the area. If you’re looking for something beyond just sampling wine, try one of these activities offered at select wineries.
- Design your own wine class: Ever dream about being a winemaker? Some wineries offer wine blending tours, where you not only taste the wines but also try your hand at making one. Visitors learn all about the winemaking process during these tours.
- Horseback riding: Why not combine wine-tasting with a horse riding tour through the beautiful countryside? This allows you to see the vineyards, enjoy the landscape and learn more about grapes and harvests — a more intimate and exciting experience.
- Chilean cooking class: A glass of wine goes down even better when accompanied with a delicious meal. Some wineries also offer participants a Chilean cooking class in the tour, where you learn how to concoct a typical Chilean cuisine and how to pair it with the most suitable wine. You will not only taste wine, but also devour an authentic (and hopefully tasty!) dish.
- Navigate the cosmos: There are also evening wine-tasting tours, wherein you learn about the night stars while you sip on some fine vino.
Before you hit the road, here are a few things you should bear in mind:
- Santa Cruz is the main town in the Colchagua Valley and it is very quiet compared to the hustle-bustle of Santiago.
- If you are doing a solo tour then do your homework well. Some of these wineries only provide tours upon appointment.
- Bring plenty of water and sun cream.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Colchagua Valley can be pretty warm during day.
While Chile’s Colchagua Valley is not as well-known as the Atacama Desert or Patagonia, it is no less incredible to visit. Whether you like wine or not, you cannot help but be captivated by the exquisite landscapes that stretch out to the horizon in every direction.
*Note: Rates are as per 2017 pricing.