Chilean wine tours, vineyards, restaurants & accommodation in Colchagua Valley
Chilean wine and Colchagua Valley is famous world wide, especially when it comes to red wine. When we were researching the best chilean wine region to visit, Colchagua Valley kept coming up top as it has a lot to offer in the way of wineries, wine tours and restaurants.
There are quite a few wine regions in Chile but this is why we picked Colchagua Valley and how to visit without going on an organized group tour. As well as the best restaurants, accommodations, and wineries to visit in Colchagua Valley, Chile.
If you don’t have more than a day to spare, you can do a wine tasting day tour from Santiago. We chose to go for longer and organize winery tours ourselves so we could go where we wanted and at our own pace.
Chilean Wine Regions: The Top 5 wine regions in Chile:
Colchagua Valley – is actually in the Rapel Valley in Chile’s central valley just South of Santiago (see wine region map of Chile below) but has become more well known than the region it’s in.
Why Visit Colchagua Valley?
Is Chilean wine good?
All of my family loves wine, vineyard landscapes and knew we needed more than a day to visit everywhere as we like fully exploring areas. Rather than just bouncing from vineyard to vineyard at break neck speed. We did that enough the first couple of times we went to Napa.
We’d seen one day Colchagua Valley wine tours offered from Santiago so knew it must be fairly close if you could do a day tour from Santiago. Concha Y Toro is also in this area and one of the most popular Chilean wines in the UK (where my parents and I are from). Not only is Concha Y Toro one of the best wineries in Colchagua but one of the best wineries in Chile.
I’m not a big fan of going somewhere full of chain restaurants and shops that make me feel I haven’t gone anywhere but this area looked beautiful and culturally rich. Many parts of Chile are extremely poor but are safe and very hospitable and friendly.
How to Spend 3 Days and 3 Nights in Colchagua Valley Chilean Wine Tasting
Day 1 Colchagua Valley
How to get to Colchagua Valley from Santiago
We flew into Santiago on Copa Airlines (using our United miles) and spent a couple of days there at the Icon Hotel. If you’re planning on visiting there, read the Santiago blog for travel tips and suggestions.
Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley is about a 2.5-3 hour drive south of Santiago and known as the “Napa of Chile”, producing mainly Cabs, Carmenere, Syrah and Merlot. They also do some great whites and rosés for non red wine lovers.
We drove from Santiago down to our hotel in Santa Cruz . This seemed to be the closest place to stay to the wineries in Colchagua Valley that we’d decided we wanted to go to after lots of research.
TIP: Don’t use WAZE in Chile. It doesn’t really work anywhere in Chile and gave the longest route compared to Google or Apple maps.
How to get to Concha Y Toro Winery Tour
The first winery we decided to stop at was Concha Y Toro, famous for their ‘Casillero Del Diablo’ wine. One because it was by request of my Dad and 2 because it’s pretty much en route to Santa Cruz. It’s about a 45 minute drive South East of Santiago in Pirque.
It can be confusing which of Concha Y Toros addresses to go to but its Avenida Virginia Subercaseaux, 210 Pirque. Concha Y Toro is popular worldwide and easy to get to from Santiago so one of the busier vineyards which means you need to book your tour in advance.
We booked the 11:40 am tour figuring that allowed us to be leisurely in the morning and get 1 wine tour in before lunch before continuing the drive. Don’t worry, they don’t just do reds, they also do whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Brut). As well as a killer rosé wine which we stocked up on for pool side at the hotel.
Chilean Wine: Concha Y Toro tour and tastings
The grounds at Concha Y Toro are absolutely beautiful! It’s like walking through an English country manor gardens. With an ornate home, large lake and magnolia trees overlooking their vineyards.
The first wine tasting they gave us was their Sauvignon Blanc which is done on their terrace with views of the vineyards. I’m sure the views and sun made it taste better as I don’t normally like Sauv Blanc but this was lovely. I even bought a bottle to go. This sauvignon blanc doesn’t taste of Elderflower which some can but more like a light French chardonnay.
The other tastings were done just outside of their cellar. Their cellar is called the ‘Devil’s Cellar ‘and the legend is that the Devil lives in them, which was to protect the wine from thieves. Since the earthquake in 2010, all barrels are only stored 2-3 barrels high. If you’re not a fan of wine, well you probably wouldn’t have read this far, but they do a really good Sangria in their courtyard café.
Lunch en route from Santiago to Santa Cruz
Be warned, there isn’t really anywhere to eat between here and Santa Cruz besides a service area. Your best bet is to eat lunch at the Concha Y Toro café. I’d hoped to eat lunch at Vina El Priñcipal but no one responded to our email and the guard at the gates wouldn’t let us in so we resorted to the service station restaurant. Don’t do what we did!
Next winery: You could try and book the last tour of the day which is at 4 pm at Clos Apalta/Lapostelle but I’d recommend doing it the next day so you’re not rushed. It’s an 18 minute drive if you stay at the hotel we did in Santa Cruz (La Perla, more about the hotel later in this post). This is another vineyard that’s by reservation only which pretty much seems the standard for all of the vineyards here. You can’t just rock up and hope they can squeeze you in and most require you to do a tour and don’t offer tastings only.
Or you could just chill by the pool or play cards before dinner after the drive (we always take Wizard with us wherever we go).
Dinner in Santa Cruz
We ate dinner on the 1st night at Casa Colchagua which the hotel concierge had recommend to us. It felt the most authentic out of the 3 restaurants we had dinner at and the portions are huge (happy husband and Dad)! The Empanada Trio were the best empanadas we had during our trip and the pork belly was lean and perfectly cooked. Needless to say we slept well, especially as the hotel is so quiet (and maybe due to a little wine).
Day 2 Colchagua Valley Chilean Wine Tasting
The next day we had 2 wineries scheduled. In the past, we’ve done the rushing around and doing 5 wineries a day thing and decided to be more leisurely this time. We were bouncing around Chile enough over 2 weeks and also wanted to leave time to be spontaneous.
Colchagua Valley wine region map
Vina Casa Silva – Traditional style Chilean wine
Our day started at Casa Silva (your sat nav may direct you to their hotel but just keep going down the road a little further and you’ll find the winery). Vina Casa Silva is about an hour from Santa Cruz but so worth the drive. It was my favorite of all of the wineries for many reasons and surprisingly one of those wasn’t the wine!
It’s the oldest and most traditional winery in Colchagua Valley and one of the most beautiful vineyards in Chile. Casa Silva’s known for its Carmeneres but also does white and sparkling wine. The Amateur Experience is $19.000 pp (Chilean not USD) and includes a short video history, a tour through cellars of the Angostura Estate and ends with a tasting of 3 Reserva Cuvée Colchagua wines (2 red & 1 white or 1 sparkling wine).
We’d been planning this trip for a year and I can get a bit OCD with organizing but I’m so glad we left free time to be spontaneous. It meant we had time for a scenic lunch on the terrace of Casa Silva’s Polo Club with views of the mountains and vineyards and fabulous food. We even stumbled across an authentic rodeo next to the Polo field.
Honestly, none of us liked any of the wines or even the sparkling but that didn’t take away from the experience. This was made by having lunch at their Polo Club (get the pulled pork sopapilla and espresso) and the rodeo. We ended up spending about 3 hours here in total. Casa Silva hotel may be another good option to stay at (around $250 per night) if you’d rather be in this area.
A few Polo facts I learned…and you thought this was going to be all about Chilean wine:
You need at least 32 horses to play Polo
You must play right handed.
Polo ponies are actually full-size horses.
Viu Manent Chilean Wine Tasting Tour
Our next tour was at Viu Manent which we’d decided on over others as they include a horseback carriage tour through their vineyards, which I thought would be romantic. As well as a tasting of unfinished wine from their stainless steel tanks. We planned the route this way to finish up at the winery closest to La Perla hotel as it’s only a 12 minute drive away.
The horse carriage tour wasn’t as I’d imagined as we were crammed in with 8 other tourists, so not quite so romantic but still worth doing. Tapping the wine in the stainless steel tank was an interesting experience. It wasn’t finished so we knew to expect it not to taste good but it was interesting to taste it through the processes before ending up in the classroom for the Chilean wine tasting. I actually really enjoyed doing the wine tastings in a classroom setting. One thing I remember from the class is that wine with screw caps don’t last as long as those with corks made from one piece. I thought it was the other way around.
Viu Manent Sauvignon Blanc: This is from their secret line and 100% Sauvignon Blanc grape. I normally don’t like Sauv Blancs as they’re too floral (Elderflower) for me but the Chilean Sauvignon Blancs don’t seem to have that flavor. I’m really liking their bright stone fruit and citrus flavors without being sweet.
Reserve Chardonnay by Viu Manent : I liked both of their whites and this is an easy drinking summer white with no oakiness.
Viu Manent Malbec Grand Reserve 2017: I’m not really the right person to review reds. What I can tell you is that this spends 12 months on a French Oak Barrel. I was expecting it to be smooth but it seemed sharp and acidic to me.
Viu Manent ViBo Blend (Cab/Malbec): Smooth and low in tannins. This one spends 18 months on oak, is fruity and not smoky. It was my favorite of their reds.
Single Vineyard Line Carmenere 2017 by Viu Manent: Smoky, oaky and peppery. I don’t like pepper so as soon as there’s pepper in the tasting notes you’ve lost me. For others it’s a popular flavor. That’s what I love about wine, there’s something for everyone.
Dinner at Viu Manent
We went back to Viu Manent’s Restaurant in the evening after seeing it during the day and having it on my list. It overlooks the horse paddock and vineyards but is the wrong direction for sunset. The oysters were buttery and not briny which is how we like them. The ceviche and tartare were fresh and flavorful especially washed down with some more of their Sauvignon Blanc!
Day 3 Colchagua Valley
We spent this poolside at the hotel with a huge lunch and the Chilean rosé wine we’d brought from Concha Y Toro before doing the final winery tour. The poolside bar at La Perla Hotel is the only place to eat after breakfast at the hotel and doesn’t open until 2pm.
It took about an hour for lunch to be prepared fresh so make sure you allow enough time if you’re planning on doing an afternoon tour or are used to eating lunch earlier. Lunch in Chile is always later than we’re used to in the US and England and normally around 2pm. With dinner being around 9pm and many restaurants not opening for dinner until 7.30pm. Our last winery tour was at:
Clos Apalta and Lapostelle Winery
Clos Apalta and Lapostelle are high up on the hillside in a really modern winery built to look like a birds nest (it looks like a wine barrel to me). It offers some of the best views of Colchagua valley. Their winery spans over 5 floors and you get to visit all of them before the tasting on the bottom level. Well the bottom level to the public, there’s 2 more floors that are a private cellar.
The tasting room is freezing so bring a blazer/cardigan and grab one of the blankets they have at the entrance. This was one of the more expensive winery tours as their wines retail for a higher price.
Clos Aplata/Lapostelle Chilean wines
Lapostelle Sauvignon Blanc: My husband doesn’t like whites but he tried and liked this! Darn it, now if I buy a bottle I’m going to have to share. It’s less acidic than some and tastes of pineapple without being sweet. (JS 92, $12.99).
Lapostelle Merlot: the reds were served too cold and I couldn’t warm them up in my hands because I was cold but both Mr. Dawes’s liked this one. (JS 92, $16).
Limited Release Clos Alpalta Estate Bottled 2012: Unfortunately this was served at the same temperature as the white wine so we couldn’t really appreciate it. It was the most exclusive and expensive of the wines offered during the tasting but none of us liked it. Their thoughts were it was an expensive wine but didn’t taste like it and they felt they could find $10 wines for better ($129.99).
Dinner at Vino Bella, Santa Cruz
The dinner we had on our last night in the Colchagua Valley was our best by far; for the sunset, setting and food. Vino Bella is next to Laura Hartwig’s winery and serves Italian food to soak up all of the Chilean wine you’ve been drinking.
The sunset over the vineyard is spectacular. A cute spot for a photo is at the back of the restaurant terrace in front of the gate surrounded by pink flowers. I’m a fussy eater (my husband would probably say fussy period) but the carpaccio, meatballs, Salmon, risotto were all fantastic. If you only have 1 night in Santa Cruz, go here.
Other Highly Rated Wineries in Colchagua Valley
Montgras – Also has a make your own Chilean wine tour and allows picnics (they sell the picnic food and provide glasses and blankets, etc).
This article has some good info on the Chilean wine trail: https://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/on-the-chile-wine-trail
Best Restaurants in Colchagua Valley
Best Place for Lunch in Colchagua Valley
The Polo Club at Casa Silva which looks like an old ranch and is surrounded by vineyards on one side and the Polo field on the other. Make a reservation as this place is really popular (or at least it was on a Sunday when we went).
Best Place for Dinner in Colchagua Valley
Vino Bella, Santa Cruz.
Colchagua Valley Hotels | Where we stayed in Santa Cruz
We chose Hotel La Perla, Santa Cruz, Chile (under $150 per night including breakfast) mainly for it’s location in Santa Cruz.
They served probably my favorite breakfast of the 3 hotels: The chef was a sweet woman who cooked the eggs to order (not from a buffet). Even better were the selection of freshly baked cakes for breakfast!!! Yes, I’m all for cakes for breakfast on vacation especially when they include chocolate and dolce de leche, plus lots of different cereals, yogurts including lactose free, fruits and juices.
Not sure how well this follows on from food but on a side note, in many places in this area you can’t flush toilet paper down the loo!!!
Other Restaurants close to La Perla hotel.
What to Pack for Colchagua Valley
Leave your wedges (I wore mine once in 2 weeks) and heels at home and stick to sneakers, flats, and cute sandals. It’s really casual so don’t worry about packing smart clothes. Obviously add the norm (clothes, shoes, underwear, toiletries, etc) to this list!
Sunscreen & hat
Coverup of some type as the temperature drops at night and the cellars can be cold
Card games (we played Wizard at night as there isn’t much of a nightlife and as something to do before dinner).
International roaming data plan so you can use your phones maps
Light colored clothes as mosquitoes here go for black! As my husband learned the hard way!
- A bottle opener if you’re planning on bringing chilean wine back to the hotel for a pre dinner drink.
Weather in Colchagua Valley
One of the reasons we went to Chile over Christmas and New Years was because it’s their Summer and we were chasing the sun. The warmest time to go to Colchagua Valley is December-February when it’s around 88.4°F (31.3°C) during the day and 55.4°F (13°C) at night.
Next Stop in Chile
From Colchagua Valley we drove back to Santiago and then flew to the Patagonia Lake District in Chile which was super easy. I’ve shared our flights, hotel, and everything we did in the region in this blog post as well as the tour that was 1 of our 2 best days in Chile.
Our other trip highlight was in Colchagua Valley that I shared above, as it was just so fortuitous that we stumbled across it and how authentic it was.
The last stop for us in Chile was San Pedro De Atacama desert which was another huge change in landscape and worth making time to spend a day or 2 at. In hindsight we’d have done the desert differently, so definitely go by how I wish we’d planned it versus what we did.