One does not simply go to Chile and not drink copious amounts of wine. In addition to avocado and corn, wine is a staple of the Chilean diet. To further indulge our wine loving souls, we visited two beautiful vineyards in the Casablanca Valley and Maipo Valley in Chile!
Casablanca Valley is the 10th wine capital of the world and is located between Santiago and Valparaiso. When you look at a map, this area seems somewhat accessible without a car or private tour. With knowledge of the public transportation system, a day at a vineyard in Chile is easy to do by yourself.
We researched tours that would bring us from Valparaiso to the Casablanca Valley. Most of them cost upwards of $200.00 USD per person! These tours include hotel pick-up & drop-off, vineyard tour & tasting fees, and lunch.
This seemed like quite the price tag so we dug for more information. Most vineyard tours include tastings and cost around $20.00 USD per person. Lunch usually doesn’t cost us more than $20.00 USD per person in Chile. The real value from the pricey tours was the organized transportation. We couldn’t justify a luxurious tour like this especially since the public bus cost about $3.00 USD per person
So it was a no brainer… we did it ourselves!
Our first DIY wine tour was to the Bodegas RE vineyard in the Casablanca Valley in February 2016 and our second wine tour was to Concha y Toro in the Maipo Valley in March 2016.
Bodegas RE is a small family vineyard founded by Pablo Morande founded in 2013. RE stands for their concept of REcreating, REinventing, and REdiscovering. They produce wine with ancient techniques and modern knowledge. All of their wines are interesting blends and delicious!
Take any bus from the Valparaiso or Vina del Mar bus terminal that is going to Santiago. Ask the bus driver to be dropped off at ‘Parada Chacabuco’ – pictured above. Just ask the driver: Vamos a Valle de Casablanca. Por favor, podria parar en el cruce Chacabuco de Casablanca?
We purchased our tickets directly from the bus driver and paid $2,500 CLP each.
Once you disembark the bus, you will need to cross the highway to reach Bodegas RE. Have no fear though! There is a pedestrian overpass at the bus stop that will take you to the other side of Route 68. Cross over and walk up the road for 15 minutes until you arrive at Bodegas RE!
The Wine Tour
David and I selected the Innovation Tour, which costed about $23.00 USD per person and lasted for 2 hours. We ended up having a private tour with our guide who was from Germany.
We started the tour amongst the grapevines and learned about the history of the vineyard, the types of grapes used, and their irrigation process. Then we saw the balsameria and artisan liquors. All of their balsamic dressings and liquors are created on site and can take up to 5 years to make!
The tour finished in the winery where their massive, hand-made clay vessels are located. As you walk down the stairs, cool air surrounds your body. The entire cellar is made of the same clay used to make the vessels and maintains the naturally cool air. The clay pots were hand-made and are the only ones in the world. Bodegas RE proactively encourages other wineries to adopt this model of sustainable wine production.
The best part! After our tour, we sat in their bar/gift shop for the tasting. We tasted the RE Pinotel, the RE Chardonnair, the RE Cabergnan, and the RE Doble as a bonus! This tasting also came with cheese, bread, and their homemade balsamic dressing. Yum.
Concha Y Toro
Concha y Toro was founded by Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro and his wife Emiliana Subercaseaux in 1883. The couple brought grapes from Bordeaux, France to start the winery. Today, it is the largest producer of wine in Latin America.
We visited Conca y Toro Vineyard with two of our friends, Julio and Monica, when visiting Santiago for a weekend.
This vineyard produces my mom and I’s favorite wine – Casillero de Diablo. So there was no way I could leave Chile without visiting the source!
Take the Santiago Metro Linea 4 (blue line) to the last stop, Plaza de Puento Alto. Once you arrive, walk outside to take a taxi to Concha y Toro or order an Uber. The vineyard is about a 15 minute drive from the train station depending on traffic. The address of the vineyard is Avenida Virginia Subercaseaux 210, Pirque, Santiago.
Plan accordingly. It will take about 1 ½ hours by public transportation to arrive at Concha y Toro. It took us about 2 hours because there was tons of traffic on the way to the vineyard. We missed our originally reserved tour and luckily they had space in the next tour for us. We had about an hour to wait and were starving so we went to the restaurant. Long of the short of it – the food took too long so the four of us drank a whole bottle of wine. Is it a good or bad idea to drink a bottle of wine before a vineyard tour? The jury is still out.
The Wine Tour & Tasting
We went on the Tradicional Tour. There are tours every hour which are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The tour is about 1 hour and costs $19.00 USD.
The Tradicional Tour begins in their beautiful gardens and leads to the vineyard. Concha Y Toro has 26 strains of wine grapes and we were able to eat a few right from the vines!
The tasting was incorporated into the tour. We tasted the Chardonnay after walking through the vineyard and tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot after visiting Casillero del Diablo. All of them were oh so delicious.
Casillero del Diablo
The grapes from France were the perfect match to Chile’s climate and Don Melchor began producing some of the first and finest wines in the country. The wines were locked in his wine cellar, but were frequently stolen. To stop the vandals, Don Melchor spread the rumor that the devil lived in his cellar. People could not prove or deny the rumor and the robberies ended.
After the tour, we were starving so we returned to the restaurant to have lunch (the bottle of wine, 3 glasses from the tasting, and grapes hadn’t satisfied our hunger). The food was excellent so we recommend enjoying a meal here, especially if you can snag a seat on the terrace!
Of course, no wine tour is complete without visiting the gift shop. We bought a few bottles of wine and were pleasantly surprised at how affordable they were!
We loved our DIY tours because it allowed us to visit the beautiful vineyards of Chile on our own time and pace. Saving more than a hundred bucks per tour didn’t hurt either 😉
The only thing these vineyards have in common is that they make wine. But even their wines are very different! We highly recommend both of Bodegas RE and Concha y Toro. If you’re looking for a small, sustainable vineyard to visit, definitely check out Bodegas RE. If you’re looking for a traditional vineyard with beautiful views and deep history, Concha y Toro is perfect place. Better yet, visit them both while in Chile!
And if you’re craving a glass of wine after reading this post and can’t jet set to Chile’s wine country, Concha y Toro’s wine is sold in the United States and the UK. Salud!
Have you been to a vineyard in Chile? Which one? If not, what is your favorite type of wine? We’d love to know… and try new ones!