If you’re looking for a romantic romp into South American wine country, the Casablanca Valley in Chile is a worthy destination. Located approximately one hour away from the capital city of Santiago, the valley is beautiful, picturesque and makes for a wonderful day trip. All that is needed on your end is a car, a good map and a sense of adventure.
Navigating the roads in Chile is clear-cut and simple. The Casablanca Valley is located on the Route 68 freeway, which connects Santiago with the coastal cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. As you approach the valley, you’ll begin to see large brown signs indicating that you’ve entered the Ruta del Vino, or wine trail.
The Casablanca Valley is known for producing world-class chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. Though advance reservations are generally recommended for private tours, most of the wineries take walk-ins and are open seven days a week, with peak tourism occurring on weekends. From the freeway, you’ll easily spot the wineries of Veramonte, Emiliana, Tierra Vientos and Morande. Stop for a wine tasting or tour at these places, but save your lunch plans for Tanino, the gourmet restaurant at the beautiful boutique winery Casas del Bosque. If weather permits, request a seat on the lovely covered patio, and dine with the mountains and beautifully landscaped grounds as a backdrop. Order a bottle of the Casas del Bosque Reserva Chardonnay, and a sampler plate of meat and cheese or seafood to start. Follow that with an appetizer tasting of centolla (king crab) and one of the handmade pastas by chef Alvaro Larraguibel.
After lunch, tour the Casas del Bosque winery. Tours are offered every day of the week, at specific intervals from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and may be booked in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese. The basic 45-minute tour takes you through the vineyard, winery and cellar, and ends in the tasting room, where you’ll sample some bottles.
When you’re ready to head back to Santiago, make sure there’s enough time to stop at the stunning Viña Indomita. Located on the south side of the freeway on your return, Viña Indomita is breathtaking. Regal in appearance, the bright white facade of the aptly named “Casa Blanca” — a design from Chilean-Italian architect Pablo Scarella, the building is perched on top of a hill surrounded by lush, verdant grape vines — looks like a fairytale castle. The views from Casa Blanca are also gorgeous — a 180-degree stretch of mountains and neatly planted vineyards as far as the eye can see. Be sure to snap some photos before leaving the lovely spot.
Photos Courtesy of Mai Pham and Vermonte