Santiago is the perfect place for wine lovers to visit due to the proximity of so many wine regions to the city. Just an hour and a half west of Santiago toward the coast lie the Casablanca and San Antonio Valley wine regions. In October, I had the chance to visit both regions. Two wineries stood out not only with the quality of their wine and their idyllic settings but also because they proved convention wrong when it comes to cool climate wines.
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When I planned my recent trip to Chile, my heart was set on the wine country and the coast. I wasn’t too excited about visiting Santiago. But because I was paying for most of the trip using points, I decided to stay in Santiago for a few nights as the rates were lower and I could maximize my points. The city really surprised me and I left wanting to lure all fellow wine lovers south.
Here are a few of the reasons why wine lovers will fall hard for the city:
THE VIEW AT THIS WINERY WITHIN CITY LIMITS.
I’ve been to wineries all over the world, places as stunning as Santorini and the Douro Valley. My jaw dropped when I walked through the gates of Viña Aqutania. There is truly nothing quite like sitting among the wines and gazing up at the massive Andes mountains towering over the vineyards in the distance. I was surprised how close the mountains seemed, like you could just reach out and touch them, a glass of wine in hand.
While there is plenty to see in Tokyo, the largest city in the world can be overwhelming at times. An escape is essential. Luckily for visitors, thanks to Japan’s extensive rail network, day trips from Tokyo are easy and most are affordable. When my husband and I visited Tokyo this summer, I knew I wanted to spend at least one day outside of the bustling city in order to get a more authentic feel for Japan. I considered going to Kamakura, a seaside town so full of temples that some call it a mini-Kyoto, or Hakone for a close-up view of Mt. Fuji and day in the mountains and onsens. But, ultimately, my love for visiting wine regions all over the world won out and I chose to visit Katsunuma.
The Katsunuma wine region is only a 90-minute train ride from Tokyo but feels worlds away. About halfway into the train ride the buildings suddenly disappear as you enter the gorgeous countryside full of lush green hills and mountains. When you arrive at the train station, you’ll immediately see vineyards ahead and will be in awe of the landscape.
I’ve mentioned before that visiting a wine region is the best way to see Europe. Not only will you experience amazing wine and food, but staying in a countryside wine town will also give you a true taste of the country’s culture and history.
While there are hundreds of European wine regions to visit and even more beautiful towns, below I’ve picked four towns in the top four wine-producing countries in Europe that are sure to capture any wine lover’s heart.
One of the most striking characteristics of the wine villages in Burgundy is that practically every other building in town is a domaine or a vigneron -- a winery in U.S. terms. In Meursault, where I stayed, there are over 50 wine producers in the tiny village alone. When you add to that all of the wineries from the neighboring villages, the choice of where to visit can be overwhelming.
My family and I visited in early March, which is considered the “off season” in Burgundy. Some wineries were not open when we visited. However, the silver lining to traveling then was that most of our winery visits ended up being private tours. Having the winemaker give you a tour and tasting of his or her domaine is an incredible experience.
The wineries that I am highlighting below are all smaller, mostly family domaines in the Côte de Beaune, one of the five wine growing areas in Burgundy. While we did drop by a few of the larger wineries, I highly recommend the small wineries as they give a more personal and rewarding tour and tasting experience.
Below are my personal favorite winery visits from my time in Burgundy.
Cappadocia is a fairytale region in central Turkey that dates back to the sixth century BC. It is so unique that people liken the topography of the region to that of another planet.
Many people have never heard of Cappadocia and even I had almost forgotten this magical place existed. My husband and I almost added on a few days in Cappadocia to our honeymoon itinerary, but regrettably missed out.
The extraordinary landscape was formed through volcanic eruptions and erosion. The cavern architecture dates back to the fourth century AD. Not only are there ancient houses, businesses, and now hotels carved into the sides of the rock, but there are also entire cities underground. The ancient city of Derinkuyu, the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, is eleven stories deep and connects to other underground cities through a network of tunnels. The city could accommodate up to 50,000 people – talk about a good place to hide!
Imagine biking smack in the middle of fields upon fields of vineyards. In the distance lies a picture-perfect fairytale town with a church steeple perched high above the houses. The path behind you leads to an equally charming town taken from the pages of a storybook. The hillside on your right is filled with the grand cru vines, which bear some of the most expensive grapes in the world. To your left are the village grapes that create surprisingly different wines as you move from one village's plot to the next.
My last blog post detailed why traveling to a wine region is the best way to experience a European country. Over Thanksgiving, I was at a winery in the Santa Ynez Valley in California. While I was tasting the wine and soaking in the vineyard views, I was reminded of how many of my friends and family members visit Napa Valley in northern California, yet never travel to Europe’s wine regions. Don’t get me wrong – I would love to visit Napa! But every time I start planning a Napa trip, the same light bulb goes off.
It’s much cheaper to visit a wine region in Europe.
(And I would always rather go to Europe!)
That said, I don’t think many people realize that. Most people probably think that a domestic vacation must be cheaper than an international one.
But that's not the case.
Using the Rioja wine region in northern Spain as an example, this post will show you how the cost really breaks down. I hope this post will convince you that Europe isn’t as expensive as you think and that it’s absolutely worth the longer flight!