When your husband has been deployed for months, and his aircraft carrier makes a port stop in Chile for 2 weeks, you fly to Chile. And you don’t do a ton of sightseeing those first few days. There’s a couple months to make up for, ‘kay??
But when you finally decide to emerge from the hotel room, you wanna do something cool right then. For us, that something cool was hitting the Casablanca Valley for some wine tasting. Then going back to the hotel…see previous paragraph.
What we’re doing now.
But later… (wink, wink!)
So lemme start by saying that Stamp’s Tour is awesome. We made no plans for tours, sightseeing, etc. ahead of our arrival in Chile (a hit-or-miss approach to travel, but after being apart for so long, tying ourselves to a schedule wasn’t our top priority). But when we gave them a call to inquire about a Casablanca Valley winery tour, they made it happen in less than 24 hours.
We were there with a group (several others had flown in to see their spouses, too), and 7 of us ended up going on the tour, scheduled for the following day. The next morning was overcast, so the timing couldn’t have been better. The rest of our days in Chile were projected to be bright and sunny, so we wanted to use those for more outdoorsy excursions, strolling around town, that sort of thing.
Typically, they offer a full-day four-winery tour, including lunch. But Because of various logistical hiccups (on our part) that made us get a bit of a late start, they worked with us on-the-fly to pare it down to a three winery tour, sans lunch (lunch is cool and all, but the wine is what’s really important here!). But they made a stop along the way for us to grab to-go sandwiches and snacks for the day.
Very cool that they were able to roll with the punches for us, in all our disorganized glory! In the end, we paid just under 100 bucks per person (gratuity not included) for transportation, tours and a tastings at three wineries with a private guide.
After being picked up from Viña del Mar, the coastal town where we were staying, we rode to Viñamar, our first winery of the day. Yes, we went to Viñamar from Viña del Mar… keep up!
Viñamar was a great start to the tour. Upon arrival, we walked the grounds and learned why the Casablanca Valley produces such great grapes. While the region turns out young wines – most vineyards are less than 30 years old – it’s temperature, soil, and proximity to the sea have given it a perfect climate for wine production.
It has a cooler climate as far as winemaking regions go, but with wide temperature ranges on a daily basis. It has chilly, misty nights, followed by foggy mornings that turn to hot, sunny days. These daily cool-to-warm temperature differences apparently make for complex and robust grapes. Who knew?? (Wine experts, I guess, but anyway…)
At Viñamar specifically, the vineyards sit on northeast-facing slopes where the grapes are at the right incline to receive a steady breeze and almost constant sunlight once the fog burns off. The proof is in the pudding bottle, though, so off we went to give the wines a try.
In their tasting room with huge windows overlooking the vineyards, we sampled their Brut sparkling wine, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. All great, especially the bubbly. We’re big fans of sparkling wines, so we couldn’t resist buying a Brut on our way down to the wine cellar – it was delicious.
Once downstairs, we saw dozens of barrels being wrapped up for shipping, and hundreds of bottles aging in wooden sandwich board-shaped wine storage.
Indomita was next, and had the most picturesque views. The restaurant and tasting room is set high on a hill – I was seriously a little nervous as we zig-zagged our way up all the switchbacks on the narrow hillside road – that overlooks vines almost as far as you can see.
With no time to waste – we spent much more time at Viñamar than expected – we headed straight down into the cellar for our tasting. They were aging the crap out of some wines down there, y’all. The amount of dust on these bottles was…almost icky.
We tasted their Duette line – a Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère blend, a Chardonnay, and a Pinot Noir. They’ve got a good half dozen more, including an organic line, which makes me happy. Along those lines, they’ve also undertaken some pretty solid sustainability practices. For me, that always makes a good wine even better. They practice waste water treatment, use renewable energy and energy efficient technology, and contribute to local conservation efforts. A winery after my own heart…
We again had to hurry – winetasting really makes the time go by fast! – to get to our final winery, Emiliana. The winery sits on beautiful grounds with not only vineyards, but gardens with native plants, olive trees surrounding the property, and yard space for their chickens to cluck around on. And they’ve got alpacas, y’all! They day just kept getting better with each new winery…
We tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon, red blend, Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wine – plus a bonus wine that I can’t remember (hey, it was our third winery of the day). Not only were the wines good, but, quantity- and variety-wise, it was the best winery of the day, offering 5 tastes vs. 3 from the previous wineries. And I liked Emiliana’s tasting room the best, mostly because it was the smallest and allowed for a more intimate and cozy experience.
To top it off, all their lines of wines are organic. Those chickens I mentioned? Pest control, baby! Not a single grape ever sees a synthetic pesticide. So, of course we had to support them and buy a couple bottles. But, I’m telling you, organic wine tastes better (right?? It’s not just me…is it?). They also compost, use renewable energy, grow organic food for their staff to take home to their families…and that list barely scratches the surface.
Oh, the environmental responsibility… it’s enough to make a girl swoon…
If you go
Each winery offers their own tour/tasting experience, or you can book an independent tour and do all three at a bit better rate – and with a DD! Stamp’s Tour can help you out there – we did their Casablanca Valley Wine Tasting Day, but they offer four other winery tours, too.
Viñamar is located on Route 68 at km marker 72. Take exit #90 off the highway, and signs will point the way. They’re open Tuesday through Sunday and offer tours between 10am and 4pm.
Indomita is located on Route 68 at km marker 64, and is visible from the highway long before you arrive. They’re open all year and offer a half dozen tours – including a horseback tour/tasting! – every day of the week.
Emiliana (voted Winery of the Year in 2015 by Wines of Chile!) is located at Route 68 north, at km marker 60.7. They’re open every day all year long, with varied summer and winter hours, and offer tours daily. They have a variety of tour/tasting experiences – wine and chocolate pairings, anyone?? – so check out their site for a description of them all.