If you ask most people what they associate with Chile, except for being the longest and thinnest country in the world, I think they’d struggle to come up up with anything for a while, until finally “Aha! Wine!”
Chile exports hundreds of different wines all over the world, with large swathes of the middle region having the perfect environment for excellent vineyards.
It was with this in mind that after 5 months here I finally went to visit a winery! The Tours 4 Tips people in Valpo recommended Bodegas Re in the Casablanca Valley between Valparaiso and Santiago. So Tom and I loaded our huge rucksacks onto our backs and went off for a nice, sophisticated day out.
The staff at the winery certainly chuckled when we popped out of our taxi colectivo looking like a pair of turtles next to some of their other clients but they were very welcoming and friendly.
We opted to do the $14,000 tour with 3 wine tastings which was definitely worth the money. Raul was our personal guide who first took us out to the vineyard a bit about the company and its philosophy. The owner comes from a family with 8 generations of wine-makers and recently sold off a much larger one to fund this smaller, more specialised and artesenal one.
The grapes are hand-picked by all the workers from the bodega then put into large clay pots to be crushed using a wooden implement that the Greeks used to use! And it is in these clay pots that many of wines are left to ferment. Each pot they have is completely unique and most are 80-100 years old! There is even one that is 200 years old which belonged to the first head of state of Chile: Bernardo O’Higgins. It also seems that they are irreplaceable as it would be near impossible to find the same materials & the skilled potters to recreate them in the same form or size. that being said, the company have created 6 new clay/concrete pots that hold 12,000 litres of wine each! And above these they play loud music with lots of vibrations to aid the fermentation process.
After an afternoon of pretending to be cultivated wine connoisseurs we hoisted our packs onto our backs and waited on the side of the motorway for a bus to Santiago. At 5pm on a Friday evening no bus was stopping to pick us up, but luckily 2 very friendly guys with spare seats in their car took us for half the price of the bus! 🙂