Yesterday (Sunday) we drove to Santa Cruz, about 2 1/2 hours southwest of Santiago, to meet Kristin and Dean and spend the day with them. We arranged two tours of vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile's most important wine regions, especially known for their Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
We first went to the Viu Manent vineyard, a well-established, family-run winery. Our guide was Freddy and he was great. We learned a lot about making wine and about the vineyard. It's neat to visit the same vineyard more than once because you learn more about it since every guide adds different information to the tour. The highlight for Kirsi was going through the vineyard by horse and carriage. She thought it was pretty neat. We did the wine tasting and I surprisingly liked the Chardonnay. Normally, I don't like Chardonnay as it's too oaky for me but theirs is quite fruity and I liked it. Dean preferred Viu Manent's specialty, the Malbec, which is pretty strong wine. Go Dean!
Then we headed to Vina Santa Cruz, which is a much newer vineyard. Their first wines came out in 2004 and their tourist "attractions" were completed in 2006. The tour of their vineyard is very different to others. Instead of going through the vineyard, you get to see it from above. They take you up a big hill in a cable car and you have a great view of the valley below. At the top of the hill, there are three different houses from different cultures in Chile. There's the Mapuche (from the south of Chile), the Aymara (from the north) and the hut and boat house of the people of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui.
Kirsi with a Mapuche statue:
Kirsi with a moai from Easter Island:
Inside the boat house:
In the hut from Rapa Nui, there were wood carvings of the first king and queen of Easter Island and a boat pulled by turtles. Kirsi kept saying, "Look at her boobies!" Keep in mind that we were not alone on the tour!
They also have an observatory up on the hill where they give night tours. They've got a few high-powered telescopes there so you can look at the stars and planets. Very neat. They have samples of meteorites found in different countries and all kinds of paraphenalia throughout the main building and the three cultural houses. The man who owns the vineyard has a ton of money and has bought lots and lots of random artifacts from around the world. Imagine having so much money that you collect expensive junk from all over!!
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