The beautiful, majestic Andes Mountains are the backdrop for many of the wineries in Chile. The longest continental mountain range in the world is a sight to behold with its mile high, jagged snow-capped peaks.
Chile is said to be a viticultural paradise, the most desirable terroir in the world for growing grapes. Those stunning mountains, Patagonian ice to the south and Pacific Ocean to the west sort of form a protective boundary around the fertile land.
Before our recent visit to Chile, I knew very little about the country, its food or its wine. I had to re-check a map to be sure I knew exactly where we were in relation to Texas. We were obviously far to the south, but I didn’t realize how far to the east we were too…east of Miami longitudinally! We divided our stay in Chile between two places–Santiago, which sits on the western edge of the Andes in the central portion of Chile and is within easy driving distance of many wine regions, and Santa Cruz which is about a two hour drive south of Santiago and also surrounded by some important valleys for wine growing.
The countryside in Chile is spectacular. Rolling green hills dotted with wildflowers (it’s springtime there) and those awe-inspiring Andes looming in the background. I cannot imagine a more beautiful setting for wine making.
And the people—the best! Warm, friendly and engaging, they literally smiled with their eyes. I loved getting to know them. They’re beautiful souls and very proud of their country.
We made an unexpected stop at a dairy farm that produces incredible cheeses…all natural, organic.
Not only did we sample some amazing cheeses, but we bottle fed the calves, watched the cheese-making process and ended up spending the evening on their veranda drinking wine and eating cheese for dinner!
Our main reason to visit was to explore the wineries, but we also made time one morning for a cooking class that turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
I’d met the chef a couple of years ago when she spoke at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus – Chef Pilar Rodriguez. If you travel to Chile, make time for this fun, informative class. Even our husbands had a great time. And of course, wine is served!
Chile’s predominant wines are Spanish and French varietals like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. Its signature grape is the carmenere. Similar to merlot it produces a luscious wine that’s loaded with blackberries and spice.
Our first stop was to try the incredible wines of Almaviva. More on that in my next post…
And a very big thank you to At&t who kept us tuned in, plugged in and able to communicate with all of you back in the states. My iPhone apps were invaluable for navigating.