Wine Travel in Chile’s Colchagua Valley
If you’re planning a trip to Chile, specifically for wine country, you are going to find there is not very much helpful or current information. I scoured Google. I don’t mean page 1 results. I went deep…. page 10 deep. It is tough to find good tips and bits of information and there is definitely no singularly organized resource. Part of the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know and this can make it hard to perform searches that will yield the results you need / want. In late January of 2020, my good friend Brady and I ventured off with as much info as we could find, a loose itinerary and a handful of reservations. We made sure to document as much as we could and the term “pro-tip” became a core part of our vocabulary for the 8 days we were abroad. If you are planning a trip to Chile to drink wine and eat food, then this will hopefully prove to be a helpful resource for you! At the writing of this blog, we have not received any sponsorship of any kind. These opinions are my own.
A Word About Chilean Wine
If you aren’t familiar with Chilean wine country, you should spend some time looking at wine maps and getting your head around the different regions within the country. Chile is an incredibly beautiful country with a great deal of unspoiled bio diversity. On the west of the country is thousands of miles of coast line and to the east is the Andes mountains which run the entire length of the country. In the north is the Atacama Desert, which gets less than half an inch of rain a year. To the south is antarctica. The central valleys of the country are wildly fertile. Driving through the countryside we both remarked that you could probably plant and grow anything in this area. The country is very isolated by the natural barriers on all sides and this has played a key roll in preserving the indigenous flora and fauna.
For example: Wine in Chile is grown on its own root stock. This is a cool fact because the root eating louse called phylloxera has never made it into the country. If you aren’t familiar with this bug, here is the short version, high-density grape farming and globalization made it easy for this bug to eat, destroy and travel. There are varieties of grapes that have roots that are resistant to the bug and so, much of the world’s vineyards were replanted with this resistant root stock. Grape varieties can then be grafted onto the root stock. This has never happened in Chile. Pretty cool!
Chile has been making wine for quite some time but it hasn’t been until the last 30 years that the industry has really grown-up and taken off. For the longest time, wine was produced for domestic consumption. The focus was more toward volume than quality. This started changing when the export market for Chile opened in the 1990s which also coincided with the fall of the military dictatorship and switch to a more democratic government of / by / for the people. Since then, there has been a clear and concerted effort to focus on increasing the quality of wine. Site selection, grape varieties, yields, farming style (organic, bio, dry), techniques in the winery, use of oak, etc. all became larger parts of the equation and in the past 10-15 years, the industry has truly evolved.
Chile is still very well known for bargain buys. You can find really nice wines at very low prices. But you can also find really tremendous wines that are priced a little more aggressively. When you fly into Chile, the main port of entry is the city of Santiago. From Santiago, you are only a few hours drive from several major wine regions which include Maipo, San Antonio, Casablanca, Aconcagua, Cachapoal, Colchagua, and Marchigüe. There are many other regions further from Santiago: to the north are Elqui, Limari, and Choapa, and to the south are Itata, Biobo, Malleco and Maule. We decided to focus on the Colchagua valley because it was only a couple hours from Santiago, we had personal recommendations to go there, there were several well-respected wineries in the region, and we had a few tastings and tours setup by wine distributors.
Arriving in Chile
Brady and I did a lot of research and preparation prior to flying to Chile. We wanted to have a good grasp on as much as possible including driving, tipping, eating out, do’s and don’ts, you name it! When you don’t know what you don’t know, it can be hard to be fully prepared. As a result, we did some things that weren’t convenient, and we almost did some things that could have really wrecked our trip.
Pre-Arrival Tips: Before you go, make sure you check out conversion rates for currency. Brady made a currency conversion table that showed the conversion rates of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10k, 15k, 20k, 40k and put them in a small table that we put in our wallets. This was helpful as we got the hang of it. By the end of the trip, we could look at a price and have the rough conversion done on the fly. Make sure you start off with some currency as well. You can order Chilean pesos from most major banks in the United States. Head down with a couple hundred bucks worth of pesos so you can skip the headache of trying to find some cash at the airport. Often the worst rates are at the airport. Cash will be helpful for grabbing quick snacks, paying tolls, tipping, etc.. You should also verify whether or not your credit card charges foreign transaction fees and at what rates they convert. I used the Chase Ink Business Reserve card which is the best for travel. <shameless plug>If you want to earn travel points, and you want to travel, use this card. This card offer rental car insurance coverage if you book with the card. There are no foreign transaction fees and the card and the conversion is at current bank rate with no commissions. If you don’t have this card and you are business owner, get it and use my referral link so i can get some bonus points.</shameless plug>
Cell Phone: There are several major cell phone networks in Chile and we were rarely ever without a connection. I use Verizon and currently Verizon offers a program that costs $10 a day (that you use it), which allows you to use your phone for calls, data, text, etc. just as you would at home. This was very much worth it. We used our phones aggressively for GPS, streaming music, Uber, On-the-fly restaurant recommendations, and more. It was very great to not be without while we were out and about. Make sure your carrier offers a service similar to this.
Power: Unlike Central America, Chile power is different than the US. They do not use standard Edison plugs and their power is 208/220, not 110. You will want to make sure you have converter plugs.
Reservations: This may seem a bit more captain obvious, but make sure you have all of your hotel and vehicle reservations completed before you touch down in country. Have printouts of the reservations or digital copies for your own record.
Airport & Immigration: The Santiago Airport is bigger than it seems. When you arrive you are going to walk for a little over a mile to get to customs and immigration. You cannot bring meat, or produce into the country. They may also get a little sassy with you if you have a bunch of snacks or opened food items so be prepared to have to throw stuff away. If you don’t declare your food and they sniff it out with the dogs, you will get a hefty fine. Feel free to bring snacks but just be smart about it. When you get to immigration, there will likely be a long line and a decent wait time. Just get ok with it. The immigration officers are stoic. Be prepared to give location and address of your accommodations. Short, and precise answers are key. When you are stamped in, you will receive a receipt. Do not lose this. This is little receipt is required to check into a hotel and it is literally your ticket OUT OF THE COUNTRY. Fold it up, store it in your passport, rubber band your passport closed and do not lose it. It will be a pain in your ass if you lose this. Once you are stamped in, go get your bags, get in line to clear immigration. You may or may not be selected for extra bag screening and such. Once cleared, buckle up. The International arrival area outside of customs and immigration is like a scene from Love Actually. Grab your stuff tight, keep your head down, say “no” to everyone and go get a cup of coffee.
Rental Car: Our suggestion is to use a major international rental car company brand. You will have a higher chance of dealing with issues if they arise. Book your car prior to arriving and don’t worry about getting the insurance if you have coverage through your credit card. Before you can get your car, you will need to go to the rental car reservation desks in the airport terminal. This is critical. The rental car companies are located next to Salidas 2. Here you will check in and get your car contract. The company will likely put a $1000USD hold on your credit card to cover damage, gas, tickets, etc. It gets released when the car is returned. You will also have to pay a daily fee for Santiago tolls. You will be surprised how many times the automatic toll pass beeps as you drive the major roads. Take your contract and walk outside to the rental car pickup. There is one bus for all rental car companies. When you arrive to get your car, make sure that all of the pre-existing damage on the car is documented. There will be damage. The majority of cars are manual as well.
Driving Tips: Everywhere you look online will say that driving in Chile, especially in Santiago, is a nightmare. I don’t know that I really agree with this statement. There isn’t a lot of distracted driving to to deal with. Drivers are generally quite aggressive but as long as you are prepared for that, it’s not very overwhelming. Use your signal and get after it. Don’t wait for people to let you in, you have to go for it. Also be prepared to have people ride your ass. On a two lane rode, just give them a little room to pass on the left. They will even if you don’t. Drivers in Chile use their hazard signals a lot. Be prepared to stop if you see them. If you are stopping on a busy road, use them yourself. When you get off the major roads and onto “state, local, county” roads, pay attention for speed bumps. The signs look like a dude with a big belly laying down. Usually these signs, which warn of a big speed bump, are placed within 15 feet of the bumps. You will get airborne if you hit them at the right speed…. so i’ve heard. Last but not least, store your belongings in the trunk and out of sight.
We made Santa Cruz our base of operation for exploring the Colchagua Valley. Getting there is about a 2 hour ordeal by car from Santiago, but don’t worry. This is very manageable even if you’ve never driven in a foreign country. That said, driving in Chile is a good time if you aren’t a timid driver. For the most part, the other drivers on the road are courteous but they just don’t waste any time getting to their destination. In our time on the ground we didn’t experience many, if any, distracted drivers. This could be because most vehicles are manual which makes it hard to text and drive. There could be laws about it as well. To get to the Colchagua valley you have to drive south from Santiago. The roads are high-speed semi-controlled access roads. When you get out of the metro area of Santiago the road will shrink down to two lanes north and two lanes south with a divide in the middle. The ride is beautiful as you traverse your way around the Andes foothills on the East and the costal ranges on the right. As you work your way south on Highway 5, throw on some Sturgill Simpson and just take in the sights. There are plenty of opportunities for stopping to get gas and snacks as you make your way down to San Fernando which is where you will switch off to highway 90. As you near San Fernando, you will be entering the Colchagua valley. There are a handful of wineries in and around San Fernando. Casa Silva is one of the larger and more established options to visit.
When you hit San Fernando, keep your eyes peeled for the Hwy 90 signs. You will take this road all the way into Santa Cruz. This road moves at a high rate of speed but you will need to be vigilant as there are random speed bumps placed on this road that will require slowing down… 2nd gear slowing down. When you see a sign that indicates a speed bump, the bump is probably within 15 feet. As you get closer and closer to Santa Cruz, you will notice more and more vineyards. It really feels like you are in the bread basket of Chile in this area. There is all sorts of agriculture going on in addition to wine grapes. As you approach Santa Cruze on 90, you will come take a left to head South into the town.
Santa Cruz is a really lovely small, quiet town. The main square is a hub of activity. There are often pop-up markets in the square, there is a butcher shop, a modern grocery store, coffee shops, catholic church and several small businesses, restaurants and shops that line the streets run through the square. The town is quaint and and cozy and you can walk to much of what you might want to do in and around the town. When we were in town, there was a traveling circus that had set up shop about a quarter of a mile from the Hotel Santa Cruz. During your time in Santa Cruz, you will get oriented very quickly. It really is a lovely relaxing area. One thing we noticed very quickly is that there aren’t a lot of North American tourists that post up in the town. Much of the non-South American tourists come down for day trips from Santiago. These folks miss out on a lot of opportunities to discover some really cool stuff!
Hotel Santa Cruz: There are several options for lodging in Santa Cruz including hostels, vineyard “resorts,” and the like. If you want to spend $1200-1400 per night with an all-inclusive vibe and your own personal staff, you can rent the house at the Clos Apalta and Vik Wineries. We chose to stay in the Hotel Santa Cruz. This hotel came very highly recommended and it didn’t disappoint. The hotel has really lovely old school Spanish mission style architecture. The rooms are all air conditioned but the hallways and common areas are ambient, which is never really uncomfortable. The temperature fluctuations are pretty awesome. Hot during the day (and dry). Cool at night (and dry). The hotel offers a nice restaurant for breakfast and dinner options. There is also a nice pool with an excellent lounging area in sun and shade. There pool-side bar and restaurant is great as well. The property offers on-site parking, a casino (we didn’t visit it), child care, wine shop, and area museum. The rooms are clean, air conditioned, have nice bathrooms with hotter than hot water, there are mini bars, satellite TV and a great view of the mountains. We had no issues with theft, we also used the room safe for anything we didn’t want stolen like extra cash, electronics, and passports.
Pro Tip: When you check in, you will need to provide your passport and the immigration receipt. They will scan the documents and place in their records. This is standard.
Places to Eat and Drink In Town: There are numerous fantastic places to eat in and around Santa Cruz. It would have been nice to have a couple extra days if only to just lounge by the pool in the morning, snooze around lunch time slam a little bit of wine and then head out to dinner. There are good options within walking distance, but several really good options will require a brief car ride. When you are eating out, the tip (propina) is 10% and the server will ask if you would like to include the tip (propina). We always agreed and then added an extra 10% in cash. The extra cash is not customary but always appreciated, especially if the food and service were great. We ate some really ridiculous meals and for more than half the cost of what we would pay back in the US.
Pro Tip: Everywhere you go, order a pisco sour. If you want to get into an argument, talk to a Chileno person about how pisco is Peruvian. In all seriousness, pisco sours are amazing. Better than margaritas. They are made with Pisco, a brandy-ish liquor made from distilling white wine made from muscatel grapes. It is a very floral liquor that blends beautifully with lemon juice. The pisco sour is made with Pisco, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Egg White and Ice. Buckle up. If made well, you’ll get your buzz on fast.
The european influence in Chile is ever apparent when you peruse the booze section at the grocery store. You’ll find a good assortment of domestic beers and beers from neighboring countries. You will also find a mountain of German and Belgian beers. It’s actually kind of crazy how much German and Belgian beer can be found all across Chile. If you are looking for a fantastic “shitty beer,” you should try Cristal. Its a delicious adjunct lager that is great cold, with or without lime and best consumed pool side. Or if you are horizontal in the hotel room. Whatever you do, avoid Kuntsman Red Lager. It isn’t good. It isn’t even ‘ok’ in a crappy beer sort of way. It just not good. I mean, you should try it but in a “wow this really sucks, here try some” kind of way.
Ristorante Vino Bello – This is a killer Italian restaurant located slightly out of town. It’s a larger restaurant that butts up against the Laura Hartwig vineyards. The outside patio is covered and offers a great view of the vineyards with the western coastal mountain range as a back drop. When we visited here we had a couple pisco sours, a bottle of Lapostolle chardonnay, carpaccio 3-ways (salmon, beef, octopus terrine), Braised short rib & gnocchi, and seafood linguini. The meal was great. The service was fantastic as well. The server did not speak much english but between his english and our spanish, we got it done together and it was great. The bill was $100 after tip.
El Candil – This was a last minute recommendation from our host at Ventisquero. El Candil opens for dinner around 6:30pm. This is a grilled meat restaurant. There were several options for cuts of steak, and origin. The appetizers options were great, drink list great, wine list (chilean only). We started with a couple rounds of cocktails, carpaccio course which was 3 different cuts of beef topped with shaved parm and crispy fried capers served with two different sea salts, olive oil and vinegar all on the side so we could dress it as we saw fit. We then had the chorizo platter which featured a traditional longaniza, longaniza blanco and morcilla (blood sausage). This was lights out good! For our mains we had 500gram grass fed NY strip from Uruguay and a bone-in ribeye from Argentina. They were served on a searing metal plate still sizzling. The drinks, the apps, the steaks, the service were all impeccable. The bill was $120 after tip.
Bar 179 – We were looking for pizza and this got a good recommendation. Sit outside or somewhere inside this cavernous bar that I can only imagine fills up and rages on certain nights of the week. We sat inside to watch soccer and drink beers. The pizza was average. Crust was disappointing but the toppings were good and plentiful. There was plenty of drink options although we settled for adjunct lagers to wash down the pizza. The food was cheap, staff was very nice and helpful, and there was little to no wait. We spent $25 on dinner and beers.
Cassa Colchagua – We did not get a chance to eat here but this gets a strong recommendation from several people. The restaurant features traditional Chilean recipes, a fantastic setting and great ambience. This is on the list for our return.
Restaurant @ Hotel Santa Cruz – If you want a low key meal without having to leave the hotel, this is a good option. The ceviche of the day was made with chilean salmon. It was seasoned well and very fresh. The empanadas were solid and the beer and booze selection was fantastic. We opted to pre-game here prior to heading out to for pizza.
Time Coffee Shop – Just outside the Hotel Santa Cruz is a quaint coffee shop that offers small bites and a cozy place to get caffeinated and ready for the day. We opted for the Americano Doble (which meant double water not shots). This was a reasonably priced cup of coffee and a great option to grab and go on the fly. Sit in the garden in the back to read a book if you have the time.
Restaurant @ Montes – We screwed the pooch on this. Originally we planned to hit this restaurant as it is a Francis Mallmann concept. It is, however, only open from 12:30 – 3:30 (at least on the day we were there). So we didnt go. We had too many tastings packed in and we were already running late. This is on the list for the next trip.
Jumbo Grocery – If you want to grab snacks for the hotel, the road, or if you just want to grab some beers and water, this is a great grocery store right off the square. The outside matches its surroundings architecturally but when you get inside it is a big modern grocery store, polished, organized, stocked with everything you need. The beer section is great and the prices are all very reasonable. They do not provide bags so bring your own or buy them at the market. Also, the bread is great, but you must weigh it because it is not by the each (oops).
Colchagua Valley Wineries
There are several wineries to visit when you get into the Colchagua valley. Each winery is going to offer it’s own spin on Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, and the occasional Chardonnay based wines. Some of the wineries may have wine from other regions but for the most part you will find a lot of the aforementioned varietals a plenty. You can stop into most wineries and purchase a tasting or wine by the glass. Scheduling a tour and tasting in advance will get you the option to request an english speaking host and you can also book different experiences. Some wineries offer hikes in the vineyards, library tastings, and more. Keep in mind that the Chilean wine industry is pretty light on regulations. Every winery will have their base or entry-level wines, but then they will have the “Reserve” or “Grand Reserve” wines and / or “Icon” wines. Don’t let the classifications confuse you as the words have no bearing on the juice in the bottle. Reserve or Icon wines aren’t necessarily any better than the entry-level wines and they do not indicate any additional treatment, yield controls, time in barrel, bottle, or otherwise. Last but not least, Chile allows wineries to fudge their alcohol levels by up to .5%. This means that a 13.5% ABV could mean 14% or 13%.
Pro Tip: Your experiences at each winery will be vastly different. You could have crackers, cheese and water, or you could have nothing but wine. We found ourselves experiencing tastings without water to drink, buckets for dumping, and none of the wineries offered documentation on the wines for taking notes. If you are doing 3 or more tastings in a day, pack snacks, water bottles, and bring a notebook and writing utensils. Lastly, bring a pair of shoes that can get dusty / dirty in the event you have the option to walk into the vineyards for a tour of the grapes.
If you plan to buy wine to take home. First consider a little internet search to see how readily available the wines are in the United States (or wherever you call home). If you can find the wines closer to home, you may want to consider doing that first. It will be easier than flying home. If you find wines that aren’t shipped to your home country, you will want a way to pack the wines to get them home. I suggest that you bring wine shippers with you. If you have wine luggage, even better. None of the wineries offered shipping services to the US. Also, none of the wineries had any bottle shippers. We ended up buying more suitcases and packing with cardboard, socks and underwear.
Pro Tip: As a US citizen, you can bring back as much booze as you want. There is no legal maximum. There is, however, a limit on how much you can bring back tax free. So much of this is discretionary so if you bring back over $800 worth of wine, make sure you declare it. The agent may or may not ask details but just be forthright in explaining what it is for. They cannot prohibit you from bringing your stuff home. If they think you are importing for re-sale, they may give you a hard time. Worst case scenario if you end up with a jerk and they require you to pay tax, it will be an almost negligible amount.
Las Niñas: This was a beautiful first stop in the Apalta DO (denomination origin). Much of the new architecture in this area is modern in style. The main winery and tasting rooms at Las Niñas was no exception. The winery is a large rectangular cube. The tasting room is two shipping containers converted into entertaining space. We were seated at a high-top table that ran the length of container #2 and we were looking out a full-wall glass window. The view was great for the tasting. We had a very pleasant host that spoke english and was well informed on the wines. He did not, however, have technical information about the wines, or the vineyard. We tasted an unfiltered chardonnay, rose, 2 syrah and a cab blend. The rose and chardonnay were our favorites, the cab was a close third and the syrahs came in last for us. Schedule in advance.
Apaltagua: After our tasting at Las Niñas, we were looking for one more tasting to squeeze in before heading out to dinner. We were referred to Apaltagua so we drove further down the road and popped into the tasting room. The Security guard stopped to ask what we wanted, when we said beber viña, he smiled and opened the gate. I think we came at a bad time because the host was a bit of a dud. This facility was large, the tasting room was quaint. We tried several wines and landed on the Petite Verdot as our favorite. It was very floral and easy to drink. The host did not want to open a bottle of their best selling carmenere because they only had 10 bottles left. So we bought a bottle ($8). It wasn’t good. I can’t imagine the wines are much better if you call ahead for a tour, but if for nothing else, go try the Petite Verdot.
Montes: Montes is one of the larger and higher end wineries in the area. They are still family owned and they produce very good wines. Much of their wine is at the higher end for Chile. The winery is incredible. It is less than 15 years old and is nestled right smack dab in the middle of the Apalta D.O. The structure is a modern behemoth that is completely carbon neutral. Driving up to the facility is quite surreal. Nestled between the wine shop and the mountains is the restaurant concept from Fancis Mallmann. I’m sad we didn’t eat there. Our tasting and tour was set up through the importer so we had a one one one with a fantastic guide. The facility is top notch and pristine. The barrel room is set up in an amphitheater style where they play chant music to sing to the wine as it ages. We tasted through 8 wines, all of which were delicious. If you are ever at Costco, look for “Purple Angel.” This is their flagship wine that really put them on the map in the United States about 10 years ago. It consistently receives scores in the high 90s. Schedule a tasting and tour. Eat in the restaurant.
Clos Apalta: Driving into Clos Apalta is an experience on its own. You need to have an appointment, which are easy to secure in advance just call or email. The guard will check you off the list and then you drive back into the mountain. Its about 2 miles back from the road and up the steep mountain side. The winery was definitely not set up for tourism but they make the best of it. It is a beautiful production faciltiy that flows from the top floor, 7 stories down into the mountain side. The top floor where you enter is receiving and then as you go down, each floor serves a purpose. At the bottom floor you enter the wine cave and in the middle is the “tasting table.” It’s really just a glass table top that lifts up at one end to expose a walk way into a two store under ground personal bottle cellar. It’s quite amazing to see. This is a “dusty boots” tour. You will walk in, on, and around production. When you get to the wine cave, you will taste their two wines which are both very nice. Definitely need age to better integrate the new oak. This is a beautiful facility and a very nice tour. Bring a sweater for the tasting room. It is 55F and you will be in there for a while.
Neyen: Probably my favorite stop of the trip, Neyen is at the eastern end of the Apalta D.O. This is an incredible facility located at the end of a the road. The original winery is the oldest building in the Colchagua valley and has undergone re-construction after it was partially destroyed in a massive earthquake. The building is beautiful and very isolated. We were the only visitors, the only car in the lot and we had a personal tour back into the vineyard and around the former winery. All production now happens in up near Valparaiso but the grapes are all grown on site. The vineyard has grape vines that are over 100 years old and still producing. Much of these grapes are sold to other premium producers in the area. When outside the only thing you will hear is the wind. On a still day the only thing you will hear is your breathing. It is an idyllic place where I could sit and read a book in the shade of the 100 year old Eucalyptus trees that tower 80-100 feet above the property. Neyen makes a single wine that is 50% cabernet and 50% carmenere. It receives a judicious amount of oak and the resulting wine is fragrant, balanced, and delicious. This is worth the visit. Do a library vertical tasting.
Ventisquero: Driving into Ventisquero is a real treat. For the duration of our time in Apalta, we drove by the vineyard-covered mountains and I always remarked about how to get back into the vineyards to explore. Well, go to Ventisquero. You will drive nearly a mile from the main road back toward the mountains on a dirt road. Fields of table grapes line both sides of the road until the road hits a T. Go left and follow the winding road up the mountain onto a single one-way path along the terrace up, up, up to the tasting room. There is a lovely Cabin-in-the-vineyard on the side of the mountain. Go up the stairs and enjoy solid wines with the best view in the valley. Ventisquero has several wines made from grapes in multiple Chilean regions. Great wines at great values here! Also, we found that Ventisquero has a sunset event most days where you can catch a shuttle to the winery, enjoy drinks, snacks, live music and watch the sun set over the mountains. Do this.
Laura Hartwig: There was a lot of reviews online to visit Laura Hartwig. We actually visited this winery on our way back from a day trip out to the surfer town of Pichilemu. The winery is nestled back off the road through a thick line of trees and shrubbery. We didn’t have an appointment so we tried to taste wines. I hate leaving a bad review but the available staff were younger and didnt have much interest or experience with wine. We asked to try a flight of wines instead of buying full glasses. None of them were good. I wouldn’t suggest avoiding this winery. I would, however, suggest scheduling a tasting and tour and set your expectations low. The property is very pretty and quiet, it would be a nice place to relax with a book.
Casa Silva: We did not have a chance to get to Casa Silva. They are located in San Fernando and while we had plans to visit for a tour and tasting, we opted for hitting every winery in the Apalta D.O. Casa Silva makes some tremendous wines that are worth trying. You can find them all throughout the US so check them out. We will likely visit the winery the next time we are in Chile.
There are several wineries in and around the Colchagua valley. There are several wineries that offer lower priced wines within varying degrees of quality. There are also some very high-end wineries that have bottle prices starting in the mid $150 range and head up from there. Some additional wineries that I would like to visit include: Estampa, Viña Maquis, Montgras, and Vik. When I get back to Chile, Here is the itinerary I would follow:
Day 1: Driving into Santa Cruz, stop at Casa Silva for tasting and tour. Then check into hotel, clean up, grab a quick bite and go to Ventisquero for sunset wine and chill.
Day 2: Morning Tasting at Las Niñas, Lunch @ Montes before Tasting around 1pm. then 3pm at Neyen.
Day 3: Morning at Apaltagua, Mid-Day at Clos Apalta, Montgras
Day 4: Estampa, Viñ Maquis, End the day with tasting and then dinner at Vik.