The Valle de Colchagua lies in the heart of one of Chile’s finest wine-making districts. Seven wineries in the area have formed an itinerary called La Ruta del Vino del Valle de Colchagua. Tours run daily and include visits to two to three wineries with multilingual guides and the chance to sample wines at each. Lunch is taken in some of the best restaurants in the valley. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance at the office at Plaza de Armas 298 in Santa Cruz (rutadelvino.cl). Tours can also include a visit to the Museo de Colchagua. The best time to take the tour is in late March, when the wineries organize their own Fiesta de la Vendimia (grape-harvest festival). The following are some of the best wineries to visit independently:
Viña Casa Silva Hijuela 3, Casa Lotel A Angostura, 7km north of San Fernando, 72 913117, casasilva.cl. Founded in 1892, this picturesque vineyard has classic wine-tasting facilities, an exclusive hotel in a beautifully restored colonial building, a polo pitch and a top-notch restaurant. Hour-long tours are offered five times daily.
Viña Clos Apalta Ruta I-50 Camino San Fernando to Pichilemu Km36, Cunaquito, 72 953350, lapostolle.com. The titular tipple produced at Lapostolle’s gravity-fed winery is organic and biodynamic. Standard one-hour tasting tours of the 445-acre estate are offered as well as visits with horseriding or lunch. Four enchanting, luxurious cabins are nestled into the forested hillside above the vineyards in case you want to stay the night.
Viña Laura Hartwig Camino Barreales s/n, 72 823179, www.laurahartwig.cl. On the outskirts of Santa Cruz, this compact winery has 198 acres of vines dating from 1979. As well as tasting tour, there’s the option of sleeping among the grapevines at the Hotel Terra Viña or dining on first-rate Italian fare at the adjacent restaurant Vino Bello.
Viña Montes Parcela 15, Millahue de Apalta, Santa Cruz, 72 817815, monteswines.com. A tractor ride through the picturesque 23-year-old vineyard is included in the tours of Monte’s Apalta estate 43km northeast of Santa Cruz. As well as standard 1hr tours, they offer guided nature hikes and a lunch option.
Viña MontGras Camino Isla de Yáquil s/n, Palmilla, 72 822845, www.montgras.cl. This 494-acre bodega 12km west of Santa Cruz produces, among others, the rare Carmenère wine. It is well set up for visits, with vineyard tours, blind tastings, a harvest experience and a make-your-own-wine activity all on offer.
Viña Santa Helena Angostura s/n Km133 Sur, 72 913081, santahelena.cl. Set on 222 acres of vineyards 5km north of San Fernando. Daily tours are offered of their century-old cabernet sauvignon vineyard and cellar.
Viña Viu Manent Carretera del Vino Km37, Santa Cruz, 72 858751, viumanent.cl. Just 7km east of Santa Cruz, a visit to this third-generation, family-owned winery includes a vintage carriage ride through the 370-acre estate. Wine-making, and wine and food pairing workshops are also offered, and there is a gourmet restaurant if you’re inspired to lunch among the grapes.