Maipo Valley Winery Tour

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
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Trip End Apr 15, 2010


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Monday, April 12, 2010

I saw off my roommate Deb, Emma and Jill, said goodbye to our leader.driver Anki and went to the desk to
rebook the wine tour that I had been told was canceled.  Now they told me the transport would be there to pick me up at 9:30 am.
I was pleased and hurried to get ready and gave up on
trying to find out why last night they had told me it was canceled.  I could stay in the room another day, but that was the definitely the last day.  Best Western is a nicer hotel than the Espana.
Turistour picked me up and we drove down the Pan-American highway to the Autopista del Sol that goes west to the coast.  This area is the Maipo valley ... one of the primary Chilean grape growing areas.  We went to Concha y
Toro because it is so well known and a smaller winery:  Undurraga . Part of the tours, besides the obligatory tasting, were glimpses of the mansions built by former owners and their gardens.  The gardens of both properties were designed by French landscape architects.  We got to see a bunch
of oak barrels of various sizes and go down into the original cellar of the Undurraga winery. 

In the morning at Undurraga, the former owners' house had collapsed completely with the most recent earthquake and was torn down.  A newer building, built in the old style, housed the offices and gift shop.  In their garden they had a small section dedicated to the indigenous Mapuche people with several carved totem poles.  My young guide, an architecture student, said that the Mapuche were about 7-8% of the population of Chile.  After the tour - I was the only English-speaking tourist - I had my own wine tasting with a white, a sparkling wine, a red that I don't remember and a carmeniere.  This variety of grape had been virtually wiped out in Europe but survived in Chile so that it is a Chilean specialty.  I liked it.  My guide said it was softer than cabernet sauvignion.

We crossed the Pan-American Highway to the small town of Pirque, where we had lunch out at an interesting place that offered a bamboo
salad...which i thought I ordered but there was some lapse in communication and
I ended up with a mixed salad.  Although I did have one of my most extensive conversations of 3-word sentences without verbs in all of South America here.  I was finally trying to speak some Spanish.

After lunch, we went to Concha y Toro:  the largest Chilean vineyard.  It is no longer owned by the founder's family:  Concha y Toro is actually their name.  This vineyard had a huge mansion, now used for special meetings, and gardens with a small lake.  We toured some vines and rooms with barrels where wine was stored but did not see any processing areas.  We had a lovely young woman as our guide for the fairly large English-speaking group.  She asked if anyone was from the US because she had lived there, married and had a daughter but when she and her husband divorced, she had to go back to Chile and now she cannot go to the US to visit her daughter whom she has not seen for 2 years.  Her daughter is now 5 years old.  Very sad.  We got to try a white and an up-label red blend of merlot and carmeniere and something else.  I got a second souvenir glass--it was huge--and now I had to figure out how to get them home undamaged.

I am finishing last night´s movie popcorn for
dinner tonight. and getting to bed early.  It has been a tiring day.  Tomorrow
I hope to go to the museum and walk around one of the hip barrios.
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