Ok, so I’m not superstitious, but it sounded like a catchy name for a post. To start the day, we had a quick breakfast at the Hyatt Concierge lounge, and met our tour bus promptly at 8:30am. We were the first ‘winos’ on the ‘Uncorked’ Wine tour, and the mini-van then picked up the others. We had a great group of 8 people: 3 guys (2 Chris’s, and Jay) who were in Santiago as part of an international MBA course, 2 ladies from Peru (Shirley and ‘Lola’), and Shirley’s friend from Switzerland who was visiting. We had a woman tour driver, and our host was Stefan. The full day tour was outstanding – truly a top notch event.
We toured and tasted at three boutique-like vineyards in the Casablanca Valley, and had lunch served to us at the third vineyard. We had an English-speaking private guide at each winery, and they all made us feel like VIPs with the service we got. We toured the vineyards, the production areas, the barrel storage rooms etc at each place, and all three of the wineries were beautifully landscaped and designed. The weather was gorgeous; pleasantly warm, without that Florida humidity.
Bodegus RE, was the first vineyard we went to, and our guide explained the climate of the Casa Blanca region we were in, and why it was initially difficult to grow grapes there due to the occasional winter frost they receive. Bodegus RE uses a drip method in the vineyards which protects the grapes, vs other vineyards that us windmill fans with gas heaters, which aren’t as environmentally friendly. The palm trees aligned next to the vineyards gave a tropical feel, as well as enhanced the beauty of the vineyards.
An interest aspect of this winery was their use of clay pots for fermentation. They would then transfer the wine to French or American oak barrels for aging. A French oak barrel costs upwards of $1000 + and can only be used used for five years.
The next winery we went to was Loma Larga Vineyards.
Our guide took us thru the fermenting tank facility and barrel aging room. Loma Larga produces some outstanding reds, and we ended up buying a case to have shipped home. If buying a case, they include free shipping, which is hard to believe considering the distance involved back to Florida! They have roses planted amongst the vines, not just for added beauty, but as a warning sign of any impending diseases. The roses are very susceptible to insect and other damage, more-so than the vines, so they can use the roses as a warning sign if they go bad. Here are a few pics of the fermentation tanks,
Our last stop was at Quintay Vineyards.
Of all the wineries I’ve ever been to, including Napa in harvest season, I’ve never gotten to see an actual wine production process in the making. Here we were literally standing next to the machinery and could watch the de-stemming of grapes.
We didn’t get back to the hotel until nearly 6:30pm, so it was definitely a full day. Here’s one last pic of us and our Uncorked Tour guide Stefan.