Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Concha y Toro Winery

This past weekend I visited the Concha y Toro Winery. It is on a huge estate about 45 minutes outside of Santiago in the Maipo Valley. The Maipo River flows through this region and is one of the primary sources of water for the city of Santiago.

The house on the property and the winery were built in the 1800s, and the property was really beautiful. I took the “English” tour which was great because there were only 3 other people on it – it was almost like having a private tour. The rest of the group took the “Spanish” tour.

Even though the Concha y Toro Winery is very touristy and commercial, I wanted to go because it is the 2nd largest winery in the world. Wine is a very important export for Chile (they export over 70% of what they produce) and it is a huge part of the culture. In fact, if you ask a local Chilean what you should do while visiting Chile, they will almost definitely mention that you should tour a winery.

Concha y Toro produces the Casillero del Diablo wine (literally translated - Cellar of the Devil). It got its name because back in the 1800s, the owner realized that people were stealing his wine so he started telling people that the cellars were haunted by the devil. The theft immediately stopped, but the legend carried on through history that the cellars are haunted. We got to go down into the cellars, which was neat because you really could tell that they date back into the 1800s.

At the end of the tour, we got to sample some wine (Don Melchor) that sells for about $200 USD per bottle. I guess that’s why they charge so much for the tour. :) If you want to try a more reasonably-priced wine produced by this winery, try the Casillero del Diablo line. It is not too expensive and is readily available in the US.

So there’s your wine lesson for the day. Now, here are some pictures from my visit:

The grounds were beautiful!

Part of the owner's mansion, built in the 1800s

Proof that I was there ("Welcome to Concha y Toro")

Baby grapes (it's spring right now)

Going down the stairs into the Casillero del Diablo (and our tour guide Barbara on the right)

The reserve wines.....

That's all for now. Tonight I'm going to dinner with my colleague who I've been helping for the past two weeks. We are going at 8:30...joining the Chilean custom of eating a late dinner.


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