This is an exciting time to be in Chile’s most known wine region, the Colchagua Valley. Harvest began in February with Sauvignon Blanc and will continue well into the month of April. The town of Santa Cruz is considered to be the wine town of the Colchagua Valley, and the only place for wine enthusiasts to stay is the Hotel Santa Cruz. The hotel has a conference center and restaurant that caters to the wine crowd. Across the street is the town plaza where on Sundays during harvest the wineries come and have a harvest fair. We are enjoying our stay at the Hotel Santa Cruz, taking advantage of the pool, massage spa, and restaurants. There are several wineries nearby and Mike Beltran has arranged for VIP visits to two wineries, Montes and Montegras.
Montes Winery in Chile
Montes is one of the most recognized Chilean wineries. They produce a huge amount of wine and our Costco stores carries a very nice selection of the Montes Alpha label. The winery is set against Montes Hill that looks more like a small mountain, but they insist on calling it a hill here in Chile. The highlight of our tour is a ride up part of this mountain to the outer limits of their vineyards. The view from this area is just spectacular. Back at the winery we taste five of their wines including the top of the line Alpha M label.
Montgras Winery in Chile
The next morning we tour MontGras Winery. The visit begins with an auspicious start, somehow we are not on their schedule. But with a few phone calls the winery throws out the red carpet for us. We get a first-class tour, an exquisite lunch paired with wine, and the most fun is making our own blend of wine. We each taste samples of Merlot, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Then we blend various options and taste our blends. When we are happy with the blend, we make one bottle and label it. It is ours to take home.
On our third night in Santa Cruz we decided to venture out into the sides streets of the town and have dinner at a small local restaurant that we were told by our host at Montgras winery is the best restaurant in town. The name of the restaurant is Veta Bistro. The restaurant has only been open 5 months but it has become a local favorite and now word is spreading about the fine cuisine served by young chef Roberto Neiras. Roberto was born in Sacramento, CA, when his father was a professor at U.C. Davis. Roberto did a stint at two of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, the French Laundry in the Napa Valley and Per Se restaurant in New York. Our dinners were all fabulous and exceptional. Janelle and I had the special of the night, a risotto with mushrooms and Osso Buco. Delicious! Mike had a wonderful and juicy steak and Mary the Cornish hen with herbs and vegetables. The wine list is meager and we wished we’d brought our own wine. We tried the Pisco Sour, which is one of Chile’s tradition drinks, and the house wine with dinner. Cost per couple was an astonishing $30. It was a memorable meal and day in the wine country.