Our first stop was Las Ninas, a boutique winery that does not require appointments. The winery was started by women and, until recently, only employed women. Thus the name. The host, a male, told us more about the history of carmenere and how only a few countries (Australia, Cyprus, Canary Islands) were not affected by the plague that killed the carmenere varietal. I learned another fun fact. Even though China produces the worst wine in the world, China produces the most carmenere in the world. (see Air China Lounge Beijing)
If you’re looking for an informative wine tasting experience with a laid back atmosphere, head to Las Ninas.
We showed up without an appointment and came back after our tasting at Las Ninas. This was the most fun wine tasting experience because we were joined by a tour group from Chicago. After the initial tasting, it turned into a party as one of the Americans ordered a $100 bottle of Purple Angel and shared it with everyone. Purple Angel, despite its lame name, was my favorite wine from this vineyard. It’s 90 percent carmenere and 100 percent worth the price. Interestingly, it is cheaper to buy Chilean wine in the US because of the taxes on wine in Chile.
The third and final winery of the day also required a reservation. This was the nicest venue if you are looking to have a wedding. Here, we sampled seven types of wine including the Malbec Rose. I predict this wine could be big in the US if anyone is an importer.
Peruvian Ceviche: La Casita de Barreales
All day we heard how good sauvignon blanc goes with ceviche. The host at Las Ninas recommended that we go to for ceviche. He admitted that Peruvian ceviche was better than Chilean. If it was anything like the the food in Cusco, I was in for a treat. For a hefty price, we had a sample of three kinds of ceviche: salmon along with different types of white fish. Who would’ve thought to put fish, not shrimp in ceviche? I’m glad someone did.
After a nice stay at Casa Robles, we were back on the wine trail. The first stop was Laura Hartwig.
This was a busy winery with a boutique feel. This is where I discovered that Chilean sea bass is a hoax. Here, we sampled five wines along with Chilean empanadas. The empanadas complimented the terrific wine, but it was the personal service that made this winery special.
What a great two days of wine tasting. It’s certainly worth the drive from Santiago and definitely worth staying another night. If you’re a lover of reds, don’t just visit wineries around Maipo. Go to Colchagua.
- Download Google Maps to navigate you down to Santa Cruz and to get you from one vineyard to another.
- Make appointments ahead of time if you’re on a tight schedule. Some places were reservation only.
- For dinner, head to Casa Colchagua for the closest thing to Chilean sea bass.