While in Santiago, I worked quite a bit on my Masters thesis and, as I was coming towards the end of my trip, realised I hadn't gone anywhere that wasn't within a short Metro hop of my hotels!
I hopped on the inter web and found a great tour with Uncorked Tours. Looked great, but the price was much too rich for me.
Turistik had a comparatively cheap and cheerful tour which included two things I wanted to do: see a Chilean winery and visit Valparaiso, renowned to be a beautiful city, home to the Chilean Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda. It had mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, to be honest. So I was prepared for ‘ok'.
After a fortnight in the city, it was refreshing to see the sky and mountains from the bus. Our driver didn't get involved but there was a tour guide, Eduardo, who was very friendly and who seemed genuinely interested in our welfare.
Participants were roughly half and half English-speaking to Spanish-speaking and Eduardo was perfectly fluent.
First stop was the Emiliana organic winery. It was set in a valley filled with vineyards on the route from Santiago out to the coast at Valparaiso.
The setting of the vineyard was simply stunning. I look remarkably happy to be in a vineyard at 10am!
Isn't this greenery just luscious?
There is a large visitor and tasting centre at the heart of the vineyard.
Hot coffees were served in this area to kickstart everyone before the tour! Make sure to bring some cash for this!
With a short break before the tour set out, I had time to spend with the llamas! Well, maybe alpacas!
This one seemed insistent that I give it a snack!
The alpacas smelled pretty strong 🙂
This view was just inspiring (and no filters used!).
At last the tour was underway! The tour guide provided commentary in Spanish and English and was very enthusiastic about biological processes that would lead, in his view, to the best tasting wines. As I have never tasted an organic wine that I liked, I was fascinated to see this through and trust what he had to say.
The vineyard is planted with a variety of herbs said to encourage/discourage insects/pests which might improve the crop and flavour.
This was not lavender, but salvia or sage.
It sure looks like lavender!
We didn't travel very far from the tourist centre on the tour, but the vines were right there, so there was no need!
We swept back past the alpacas (this time I get it right!)
There were some workmen in the vegetable garden through the little wooden gate below. One had gotten warm in the sun and left his sweater on the bike. So charming.
It was that time of the day when the cool of the Chilean night lifted and warmth was starting to fill the air with a light breeze. The smells of the earth and plants was enchanting and uplifting.
Then there was the wine tasting! We were walked through (tiny) amounts of 4 wines, 2 each white/red. Three of the wines were not to my taste, the whites sharp and acidic and the first red single-noted. The second red (of course, the most expensive) was better rounded, like a light cabernet sauvignon.
So I remain unconvinced by organic wine! Perhaps I will find a nice one?!