Fine Wines and Great Cities of Chile & Argentina
Argentina, Chile, South America
- 8 Days / 7 Nights
While Chile’s wine-growing regions have achieved increasing fame over the past few years, the country’s cuisine is only now coming into its own. Chile’s capital, Santiago is fast gaining a reputation for cuisine that complements the attractions of the nearby wine regions and adventure activities.
Rich and varied, Chilean cuisine incorporates seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients that include meat, fish, seafood fruit and vegetables. With an explosion of talent on Santiago’s restaurant scene, new and fascinating culinary experiences are popping up all over the city, from the barrios of Lastarria, Bellavista, Nuñoa and Providencia to charming Orrego Luco, where an entire street has been closed to all but pedestrian traffic to create a gourmet food zone. The authentic street markets in the downtown area also provide a plethora of foodie treats.
Restaurants such as Boragό combine gourmet cuisine with the most natural of ingredients, from foraged herbs to edible flowers and wild berries that come from as far afield as Patagonia and the Andes. At top establishments such as Ambrosίa classical flair is combined with fresh Chilean produce, while restaurants like 99 and Las Cabras Fuente De Soda for a more rustic approach to creating cuisine that is classically Chilean but boasts a quintessentially modern touch.
This new flowering of gourmet cuisine combines flawlessly with the excellent vintages from Chile’s Wine Country, which is easily accessible from Santiago. The Colchagua Valley, in particular, is not only renowned for its wine production but is also imbued with rural culture and traditions. Modern wineries such as Montes and Vik in Colchagua or Viña Odfell, which is only 40 minutes’ from Santiago, are the modern face of Chile’s wine production, while the more traditional vineyards like Neyén rely on centuries of winemaking tradition.
The quaint and picturesque villages near Santiago also offer a few real gems for gourmet travellers, such as Colmenares Abeja Sofia, producers of certified organic honey, and Emporio Caleu, which produces excellent honey beer and wine. Other regional products to sample include olives, olive oil, almonds and prickly pears.
To counteract this surfeit of excellent food and wine offers, Santiago also has a number of options for outdoor exercise and activities. The city itself offers a selection of golf, bicycle and running tracks set against the backdrop of the Andes Mountains. Attractions such as La Campana National Park, just an hour north of the city, are ideal for scenic and remote treks among spectacular landscapes. Known as the best ski resort in South America, nearby Portillo offers exceptional slopes and beautiful views of Inca Lake. The Mantagua Wetlands, an incredible ecosystem made up of dunes, forests and lakes, also lie within a two-hour drive of the capital.
Only one of the many cities in Chile with an abundance to offer the traveller, a visit to Santiago is easily combined with time in other wellknown attractions in the region, such as in the Fine Wines and Great Cities of Chile & Argentina tours, which add Mendoza and Buenos Aires to the Chilean capital. To find out more, contact your preferred travel provider or contact andBeyond.
Fine Wines and Great Cities of Chile & Argentina
This 8-day, adventure-filled tour combines the cities of Santiago, Mendoza, and Buenos Aires, with in-depth visits to both countries’ main wine-producing areas, a day of adventure exploring the Andes, which provides a most impressive backdrop, and some simply dazzling boutique hotels along the way.
Your adventure kicks-off in Chile’s wine country. Despite the long history of wine production in Chile, its wine was mainly produced for domestic consumption. Things have changed over the past 20 years or so, during which Chile’s wines have made a huge impact on the world stage due to their high quality and value for money. Next you are off to Chile’s capital city, Santiago, which is a progressive, colourful, and eclectic metropolis. After exploring the many attractions of Santiago, you will venture across the Andes to the city of Mendoza, in the heart of Argentina’s main wine producing area.
The city offers a leafy, provincial charm, but the real gems are to be found in the surrounding valleys that are an ideal base for exploring the stunning wineries where Malbec dominates. The area also offers myriad adventure options, including hiking, rafting, and horseback riding. The last leg of your journey takes you to beautiful Buenos Aires, which needs little introduction. A city with a European grandeur, an almost palpable tango heritage, and an unmistakable character, Buenos Aires is one of the world’s greatest cities.
Itinerary & What To Expect
- DAY 1 / COLCHAGUA VALLEY
- On arrival at Santiago’s International Airport you will be warmly welcomed by a member of the &Beyond team, who will assist you through passport control and baggage claim, and will drive you south of the capital to the Colchagua Valley in the heart of Chile’s main wine production area.
The Colchagua Valley is arguably Chile’s most outstanding wine area, particularly for Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère. The latter is a variety of wine grape that formed part of original six red grapes of Bordeaux, wiped out by the devastating phylloxera virus in Europe in the 19th Century, and presumed extinct for over a century before being rediscovered in Colchagua in 1994. It is now the most emblematic of Chilean varietals, flourishing in the ideal climate and terroir of Colchagua and other valleys. Colchagua however is not only home to dozens of fine boutique wineries, but also the seat of Chile’s rural culture and traditions, which gives the place a real identity.
Spend two nights at Viña Vik, with all meals included. Alex and Carrie Vik are the art-collecting couple behind two of South America’s best boutique hotels. Their most recent project, Viña Vik, is by far their most ambitious, and one of their main aims is to produce Chile’s first 100-point wine. Each of its suites are modern and minimalist in their design, with large windows that offer sweeping views across the valleys.
Upon arrival, lunch will be served at the hotel and later in the afternoon you can embark on a guided off-road experience where you will explore the hills and roads of this magnificent property.
This evening, dinner will be served at the hotel, accompanied of course by Vik’s superb wines.
- DAY 2 / COLCHAGUA VALLEY & APALTA VALLEY
- Your first full day will commence with an assortment of adventures for you to choose from; decide on a trekking excursion, a bike ride or horseback riding. All of these activities will end at the winery for a guided, private visit. In the tasting room, you can try a range of Vik’s wines, in the company of an expert who will impart his knowledge on how to discover the soul of their wines.
After lunch at the hotel, enjoy an afternoon visit to the neighbouring vineyards in the Colchagua Valley and the Apalta Valley. Apalta is famous for its steep slopes, unique climate, and stunning wines. Wines from this area have a longer ageing potential, due to the slow maturation that preserves the fruit and gives high levels of natural acidity. It is no coincidence then that most of Chile’s iconic premium wines have sprung from this valley over the past decade, and you will have the opportunity to visit some of the following wineries:
Neyén: This winery seeks to bring out the full potential of ancient vines. The history, intensity and complexity of their fruit are woven into an elegant, balanced and textural blend of the winery’s emblematic varieties: Carménère - the principal component of the blend - and Cabernet Sauvignon. Together they combine to capture the “Spirit of Apalta” in every bottle.
Montes: Producer of many of Chile’s top-rated wines, Montes is also one of the country’s most beautiful wineries. Among its most iconic products is Purple Angel, a single-varietal Carménère. The Montes family is also leading the way in sustainable winemaking.
Casa Lapostolle: Established in 1994 by the Marnier Lapostolle family, founders and owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier, Lapostolle has aimed to create world-class wines using French expertise and the superb terroirs of Chile. Do try the Clos Apalta, which is the highest-rated wine in Chilean history. Truly hand-crafted, Clos Apalta is hand-harvested at night, which enhances the fruit used to make this stunning wine.
After a busy day, your host will drive you back to the hotel, where you will have a chance to freshen up before dinner.
DAY 3 MAIPO
- DAY 3 / MAIPO
- After a scrumptious breakfast, you will be driven north to Maipo, one of South America’s most famous wine-producing areas and home to some of the New World’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon. Today’s tour will focus on small, independent wineries in the central coastal region that few have even heard of. Wineries located between Santiago and the coast are producing some of the most interesting wines in the country. Not only are these wineries creating a high quality product, they are also adhering to ecologically sound practices.
Until recently, the estates were very much in the hands of a small group of powerful families, making it difficult - if not impossible - for anyone else to set up wineries on their own. A few years ago an organization was born that slowly but surely began to change all that. MOVI, Chile’s first Movement of Independent Vintners now has 18 members. The requirements for membership of MOVI are that they should be small and quality-oriented, make wine personally, and craft it to reflect a particular vision. Visits are led by the very owners or winemakers from the estate who are intimately involved in the production process. Although the definitive programme will be informed a week prior to your arrival, wineries that may (or may not) be included are Starry Night, a producer of stunning hand-crafted fine wines, Kingston Family Vineyards, recognised as one of the best wineries in Chile (especially for its Pinot Noir), the Garage Wine Company, to try its renowned Carignan, and Villard Estate. Perhaps you will end up helping with the harvest or having a barrel tasting. Little about this programme is set in stone. Due to the size, character, and activities of the wineries on the day, those included will vary from one tour to the next, making for the most exclusive and unique experience.
One visit that certainly will be included is a stop at the Odfjell Vineyards, Chile’s first organic and biodynamic winery. The tasting will focus on their premium wines, both red and white, accompanied by local cheeses and other delicacies. This will also be the venue for a picnic lunch among the vines.
Early this evening you will continue to Santiago, where you will have the opportunity to discover this city at your own pace. Spend one night at The Singular Santiago on a bed and breakfast basis.
- DAY 4 / SANTIAGO
- Founded in 1541, Chile’s capital of Santiago is today a modern, sprawling, and vibrant metropolis with 7 million inhabitants (40% of Chile’s total population). Flanked on one side by the Andes mountain range, and the Coastal range on the other, the city has a unique natural backdrop. Today, Chile's capital is a dynamic, modern city where colonial mansions sit amongst soaring skyscrapers, folk art becomes fashion and Latin and European cultures intertwine.
Today you will have the opportunity to explore the contrasts between the older, centrally located areas of Santiago and its modern uptown areas on a half-day tour. The tour will be conducted in chronological order, allowing you to understand the origins of the city and its urban sprawl over the past 200 years as Santiago turned from a town to a thriving metropolis. Highlights will include Cerro Santa Lucía, where the city was founded in 1542, the Plaza de Armas, the Central Market, Estación Mapocho (a former railway station), and La Moneda, the Presidential Palace. The second half of the tour will commence with a visit to the residential areas of Providencia and Ñuñoa, and the cosmopolitan financial districts of Las Condes, before reaching La Dehesa, where the city reaches the foothills of the Andes. This is a superb introduction to the city, offering a ‘big picture’ experience in a short timeframe.
At the end of the tour, it will be time to head to Santiago airport for your flight across the Andes (and border) to Mendoza in Argentina. Alternatively, you can choose an overland transfer of 6-hours through astonishing mountain scenery.
In the afternoon you will arrive in spectacular Mendoza, centre of Argentina’s wine making region, where you will be greeted by a representative from &Beyond and driven to The Vines Resort & Spa, where you will spend two nights on a half-board basis. Located in the heart of the Uco Valley, The Vines of Mendoza is an extraordinary place, rooted in the pleasures of making, drinking and sharing wine, while immersing its guests in the delights of Argentine culture, rustic natural beauty and warm-hearted hospitality.
Later in the day, you will be the exclusive guests at Bodegas CARO. Bodegas CARO was created by two legends in the world of wine; Nicolas Catena (Catena Zapata Winery) and Baron Rothschild (Chateau Lafite). Such was the enthusiasm that surrounded the idea of a joint venture combining two cultures (French and Argentine) that the focus immediately turned to their respective, emblematic grape varieties; Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bodegas CARO, located at the heart of Mendoza, boasts a restored cellar dating from late 1800s. The cellar is the heart of this secret winery and where you will be tasting three great wines.
After the tasting, enjoy dinner at Restaurant 1884. Located on the grounds of the historic Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón, Restaurant 1884 is the Mendoza dining experience of renowned Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. An elegant, refined dining room is enhanced by a beautiful terrace, with a traditional Argentine wood burning mud oven, for al fresco dining.
- DAY 5 / MENDOZA
- The prime winery area in Mendoza, Agrelo, is where many of the best known export oriented Argentine wineries are located, and your destination for today. If there is a “Napa Valley” in Mendoza, this is it. There are no shopping malls here, only some of the biggest names in Argentine wine.
Today’s adventure-filled tour will include a private visit and tasting at the Benegas Winery. Benegas is focused on quality and celebrating its Finca Libertad terroir. They believe in the judicious use of oak, maintaining it as a background component in the wine, while tannins should be balanced and the finish long. Their total annual production is a mere 30,000 cases. From here you will continue to Bodega Catena Zapata to enjoy a superb Catena Alta Tasting. The family winery of revolutionary Argentine vintner Nicolas Catena, Bodega Catena Zapata is widely recognized as the flagbearers for Argentina’s wine industry on the international stage, highlighting the unique qualities of the Mendoza terroir. International Wine Guru Robert Parker named Bodega Catena Zapata as the only South American winery in his latest book, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates. Your private guided tasting will include the Catena Alta Malbec (awarded 93 points from The Wine Advocate in August 2009), Catena Alta Chardonnay (awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator in August 2009), and the Catena Alta Cabernet (awarded 91 points by The Wine Advocate in August 2009). Next you will visit the Finca Decero Winery, where a gourmet lunch will be served. Once a bare patch of dirt in the foothills of the Andes, Finca de Cero is now a one-of-a-kind vineyard, where each vine is nurtured by hand and the winemaking is without compromise. Free from restraint and tradition, the creators of the winery developed an ‘amano' or ‘by hand' approach that is human, sustainable and sensitive to natural differences. Lunch at the winery will of course be paired with Finca Decero wines.
There will be some free time in the afternoon for you to relax, or perhaps take a stroll around one of Mendoza’s leafy plazas. Dinner this evening will be served at Alejandro Vigil’s “Casa El Enemigo”. Alejandro is Chief Winemaker of the Catena Zapata Group, and one of South America’s most prominent. He was recently ranked the 15th most important winemaker in the world by the specialised magazine, Decanter. His own wine line, El Enemigo, has caught the eye of the international specialist press. We invite you to dine at his Estate in Mendoza and take a peek at his latest creations. Vigil’s winery is located in Cachinga, some 40 minutes south-east of Mendoza, and is based on Dante’s classic novel “The Divine Comedy”. Just like the novel, the winery is divided into three distinctive places; Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. It is a real treat to walk around the winery, trying wines and gaining some insight from Alejandro regarding the wine business. A splendid way to round off a very wine-focussed day.
- DAY 6 / MENDOZA
- Today’s activities have a distinct adventure theme. Choose from three superb options, each one highlighting different facets of the area.
Andes Hike: This tour will take you on a private transfer from the hotel to the heart of the majestic Andes. A winding, two-hour drive allows you to enjoy the breath taking scenery and natural wonders of this unique mountain range. Your first stop will be Puente del Inca, a natural rock formation that forms a bridge across the high altitude Mendoza River. Continue to the Aconcagua National Park and visit the Laguna de Los Horcones, complete with a breathtaking view of the mighty Aconcagua, which at 6 900 meters above sea level is the highest mountain in the Americas. At Laguna Horcones you will start the slow ascent through the Quebrada del Durazno. After approximately one hour you will stop to have a light lunch and admire the striking beauty of the Andes, and in particular Aconcagua.
Wine, Food and Adventure in the Uco Valley: Valle de Uco contains several micro terroirs. Located on the South West of the valley and on the foothills of the omnipresent Andes, this is still a relatively undiscovered area where things are really starting to happen. A young generation of winegrowers has rejuvenated the region with their creativity, passion, and technical knowledge, getting the maximum expression from the local grape varieties. Building boutique wineries and experimenting with original and bold ways of planting vines and producing limited editions of very particular wines, winemakers are settling here to achieve their dreams.
Cooking Class & Horseback Ride at the Gimenez Rilli Winery: This is a family-run winery located in the south west of Valle de Uco. With a stunning view to the snowy Andes, this quaint winery will make you feel at home immediately upon arrival. The family has been involved in winemaking for over a century and it is now the turn of the five siblings, a third generation of winemakers, to be in charge of the winery and vineyards. With estates in different terroirs of Mendoza, Gimenez Rilli produces lush, fleshy wines that blend different altitudes and highlight the virtues of each vineyard. Learn the secrets of Argentine cuisine by the hand of the winery chef during a cooking class. Enjoy an unforgettable experience as you prepare your own empanadas, learn about the different cuts of world famous Argentine beef and even try your hand at managing a traditional mud oven. Be a chef for a day, and then enjoy your own creations as you look out across to the Andes. After lunch, enjoy a magnificent horseback adventure in the mountains, led by local gauchos.
- Day 7 / BUENOS AIRES
- After a wholesome breakfast you will have the opportunity to wander through the historic sites and elegant parks of Mendoza. Highlights of the city include Parque General San Martin, an impressive 420 hectare park, and the Mercado Central, which is where locals go hunting for cost-effective (and very good) pizza, empanadas (savoury, stuffed pastries) and sandwiches. It is a must for foodies. After a good look around town, you will be driven to the airport to board the flight to Buenos Aires.
Upon arrival in Buenos Aires you will be greeted by your &Beyond representative who will escort to the Algodon Mansion, where you will spend one night on a bed and breakfast basis.
Algodon Mansion is a luxury boutique hotel located in the Recoleta neighbourhood. This landmark 1912 building is fashioned in French Classical design and has been impeccably restored, yet re-imagined with inspired contemporary elegance and sophistication. The suites are exceptionally spacious and offer superior comforts in amenities, including impeccable service, design and luxurious finishings.
In the evening you will enjoy dinner at a tango hall to witness one of the most impressive spectacles the city has to offer. Given the sheer number of tango ‘shows’ available in the city, &Beyond will choose the perfect venue that combines the colour, passion, and authenticity that makes tango famous around the world.
- DAY 8 / DEPARTURE
- Your final leg of the journey will include a walking tour of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is often compared to European cities like Paris, rightly so in terms of the atmosphere, café culture and architecture in areas such as Belgrano, Recoleta and Palermo. However, its European influence stems mainly from Italian cities, in particular Genoa, where immigrants from that city left their mark in La Boca and San Telmo. This tour will explore colourful barrios as well as elegant and leafy avenues to give you a taste of this majestic city.
After your adventure, we will wave a fond farewell as you are transferred to the airport for your outbound flight.