Ruta del Vino Aconcagua
While the Aconcagua valley is not Chile’s highest-profile wine route, four of its wineries (one near Los Andes and three near Panquehue, west of San Felipe) are open to visitors. While touring the Panquehue wineries, don’t miss a stop at Los Hornos de Panquehue (Antofagasta 11, Panquehue, tel. 034/592104), which has exquisite kuchen and fresh juices (from local produce), and also serves light lunches or onces.
At Rinconada, south of San Felipe, the route’s Museo del Vino (Carretera San Martín 235, tel. 034/401121) occupies a traditional tile-roofed adobe, open daily except Monday. For organized tours and general information on the route, contact María Soledad Latorre (Ruta del Vino Valle Aconcagua, tel. 099/4790278, www.aconcaguavinos.cl).
Viña San Esteban
Just north of Los Andes, Viña San Esteban retains the style of the colonial hacienda it once was, but its contemporary installations date from 1994. About 800 meters above sea level, with vines on steep slopes as well as the alluvial flats, it experiences hot days and cool nights. Carmenere is its reserve specialty, but it also produces sauvignon blanc.
Guided tours (US$4 pp, some English spoken) include a respectable tasting of its sauvignon blanc and reserve carmenere. Guests can also hike to a series of hillside petroglyphs on the property.
Viña San Esteban (La Florida 2178, San Esteban, tel. 034/481050, www.vse.cl) is amenable to drop-in visits, but phone ahead. Local buses from Los Andes pass the entrance, but the route is roundabout and slow; consider a taxi instead.
Dating from 1870, Errázuriz is one of Aconcagua’s oldest wineries. It has several vineyards in the San Felipe area, but the flagship is its Don Maximiano estate, which produces cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and syrah.
West of San Felipe, Viña Errázuriz (Antofagasta and O’Higgins, Panquehue, tel. 034/591089, tel. 02/2036688 in Santiago, www.errazuriz.com) is bureaucratic about its guided tours, which require three days’ advance notice and cost around US$25 per person. It’s sometimes possible, though, to join an existing group on shorter notice — if you’re in the area, phone to ask.
Viña von Siebenthal
Less than a decade old, within easy walking distance from Errázuriz, Swiss-run Viña von Siebenthal (O’Higgins s/n, Panquehue, tel. 034/591827, www.vinavonsiebenthal.com) can’t match the maturity of its venerable neighbor in landscape or product. Its varietal carmenere and blends of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, and other minor grapes, though, have made strong first impressions.
Viña Sánchez de Loria
Directly on Ruta 60, west of San Felipe, dating from 1890, Sánchez de Loria is almost a stereotype of a traditional winery, what with its 50,000-liter wooden barrels — no shiny stainless steel here — and a local population that stops to purchase its jug wines directly from the producer. Of its 40 hectares, about 10 are devoted to fine wines, including cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, and late harvest. Higher arbors of table grapes surround the wine grapes (also used to produce chicha), while nearby orchards produce toasted almonds that are also for sale here.
Owner Felipe Cruz Sánchez de Loria himself shows visitors around the property and treats them to a generous tasting at no charge. Viña Sánchez de Loria (Camino San Roque s/n, Panquehue, tel. 034/591054) is open to drop-ins, but again phone ahead if possible.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition