The Colchagua Valley, just a few hours' drive south of Chile's capitol city of Santiago, has spent the past decade building a name for itself as a top destination for wine tours and tastings, particularly for those seeking fine Bordeaux varietals and Carmenère. Its immaculately maintained vineyards unfurling from sprawling haciendas, and a fractured terrain of rolling hills, volcanoes, and wild grasses also make the Colchagua Valley as bucolic for oenophiles as it is formidable.
Depending on time and inclination, Colchagua could be a traveler's day trip from Santiago, a two- to three-day stint, or an entire Chilean vacation unto itself. In addition to wine country, the area hosts a rich huaso culture and history. Huasos are Chile's cowboys, and their lives are chronicled both by modern-day horsemen in straw hats (chupallas) and ponchos (mantas), and in the Colchagua Museum, the country's largest that is privately owned, with at least a half-day's worth of superb galleries to stroll through.
Go to the Colchagua Valley If You're Looking for...
Wine. Vino. The drink of Bacchus. First and foremost, Colchagua caters to grape enthusiasts. And while beer drinkers and teetotalers certainly won't be bored there for a day or two, with so many magnificent places in Chile to explore (such as here and here), we'd recommend leaving Colchagua to the oenophiles.
Colchagua Valley Highlights
- Wine Tasting. When it comes to sipping, choose your adventure. Join a tour. Spend the night in a winery. Rent a luxury residence amidst the grapes. Or take a ride on the Colchagua Wine Train, departing from the Santa Cruz Railway Station.
- Santa Cruz. A quaint, lovely town in the Colchagua Valley, Santa Cruz serves as many tourists' springboard to exploring wine country. Its central square, the Plaza de Armos, comprises a long and wide cobblestoned block dotted with benches, fir and palm trees, and fountain in its center. It also serves as the setting for the delightful Santa Cruz Hotel.
- Colchagua Museum. With nary a bad review out there, the Colchagua Museum in Santa Cruz is a must-see. Spanning not only centuries, but millennia of history, the museum tracks everything from dinosaur fossils and biological phenomena of the land and sea to medieval jewelry to artifacts of the Industrial Revolution to roomfuls of paraphernalia from WWI and WWII. There is even an entire annex of buggys, old cars, and hot rods.
- Horseback Riding. Through rolling hills, vineyards, and reservoirs, sometimes with stops to swim or, you guessed it, taste wine.
Best Time to Go to the Colchagua Valley
March. It's wine harvest time in the Colchagua Valley, and most festive throughout the area's towns and wineries. Some say it's the best festival in all of Chile.
- Colchagua Valley History: http://www.rutadelvino.cl/English/valle.html
- Colchagua Valley Wine Varietals: http://www.rutadelvino.cl/English/variedades.html
- Colchagua Valley Wine Tours: http://www.rutadelvino.cl/English/winetours.html
- Colchagua Valley Museum: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g303682-d318335-Reviews-Colchagua_Museum-Santa_Cruz_Colch...
- Colchagua Valley Hotels: http://www.rutadelvino.cl/English/hoteles.html
- Colchagua Valley Restaurants: http://www.rutadelvino.cl/English/restaurant.html
- Viu Manent Winery: http://www.viumanent.cl/
- Montes Winery: http://www.monteswines.com/en/
- Vina Estampa Winery: http://www.estampa.com/estampa/index.php