Chile is an interesting and diverse country, well known for a variety of reasons, including their quality and good value wines. Nestled between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, the geography of Chile makes for some excellent wine producing regions. There are five main regions, each with a different climate and producing different types of wine. Most wineries offer tours and tastings, ranging from large-scale operations to small family run wineries, like the Emiliana Winery that we visited.
For those visiting Santiago, you’re in luck! Many of the larger and well-known Chilean wineries are within an hour’s drive from Santiago. In fact, many tours operate from Santiago and offer excursions to the wineries. Some offer a full day of wine tasting and visit several wineries. If you rent a car, or even a taxi, there are many wineries that you can visit on a day tour from Santiago.
The Maipo Valley is a well-known wine region, close to Santiago. Producing primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, it is home to some of the best Cabernet-based wines in the world and is the region that most organized tours visit. Popular wineries include Concha Y Toro and Santa Rita.
The Colchagua Valley is a little further south from Santiago. Known for its full-bodied Carménère, Syrah and Malbec, it is recognized as one of the best wine regions in Chile. Santa Cruz, Vina Montes and Casa Lapostolle are some of the well-known wineries here.
The Casablanca Valley lies between Santiago and the coast. As a cool climate wine region, it’s known for crisp white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. This region is one of the younger wine regions in Chile, with the first vineyards planted only about 40 years ago. Many of these wineries are smaller family run operations, such as Casas del Bosque, Kingston Family Vineyards and Veramonte.
As I travel with two young kids, I wasn’t sure I would be able to visit the wineries or take part in a wine tour and tasting, but although most of the organized tours won’t allow children, luckily there are a few wineries that welcome kids!
After researching and looking at many wineries, we decided to visit Emiliana Winery. We were driving through the Casablanca Valley on the way to Valparaíso and this was one of the wineries along the way. And I’m going to be honest, I hadn’t heard of their wines before but we decided to visit there partly because it’s organic and sustainable, which sounded interesting to me AND because they had alpacas. Once the boys saw the photos online, they were sold.
Founded in 1986, Emiliana was the first winery in Chile to begin organic wine production. There are no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers used in the vineyard and they are now officially certified organic. In place of pesticides, herbs and flowers are planted between the rows to help naturally control insects and pests and contribute nitrogen and nutrients to the soil. Lavender is planted along the main road and edges of vineyards for same reason. The winery uses mobile chicken coops that are moved around the vineyards.
Emiliana is also certified biodynamic, which means they follow a sustainable approach and view the winery as a diversified ecosystem, keeping the natural balance in place. The animals on the property all contribute to this ecosystem – chickens are used for pest control and alpacas contribute to their manure to the soil. For more information on their sustainable practice, visit their website which has a great interactive map that explains the different parts of the organic vineyard. Besides wine, Emiliana also produces honey and olive oil and has a vegetable garden available for workers and their families.
Tours are offered a few times throughout the day (see below for specific times) and last 30 minutes. The walking tour visits different areas of the vineyard, explains the process of organic wine making, and focuses on the sustainable practices they have in place. Also, very important to note, they have a stop where you can visit the alpacas and our guide even showed the boys how to feed them some grass through the gate.
After the tour, a full wine tasting is included. A selection of wines is presented and depending on the tour you chose, their premium Gê wine may be offered as well. Cheese and crackers accompany the wine and of course kids can’t sample the wine but they brought the boys extra crackers which kept them occupied while mom sampled the wine.
After the tasting, or if you prefer not to do the full tour, you can pop in for a glass, shop and enjoy the grounds. They do have a cafe, but it was closed the day we were there.
Emiliana also offers picnics on the property, where they provide the blanket, a basket of bread, cheese, a bottle of wine and water. It must be booked at least a day in advance.
Although we researched the various wineries, we only made our choice the day before we visited and didn’t have time to book a picnic. We also didn’t book a tour, but took the chance and just showed up. Luckily we arrived a few minutes before the scheduled tour time, and even though we were the only ones, they still ran the tour! Our guide was great with the boys, as were all the staff there. In fact, we enjoyed the winery so much that we visited again a few days later on our way back from Valparaíso to Santiago. (Mom enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio and the boys visited the alpacas again).
If you decide to go – and we really recommend you do! – here’s some things to know:
Location: Emiliana is located in the Casablanca Valley along Route 68. It’s on the north side at km 60.
Tour Times: 10:30am, 12:00pm, 2:30pm and Dec – March 4:00pm, April – Nov 3:30pm; Store is open 10am to 6pm (5pm April to Nov). You might want to call ahead and book, especially during summer season, but we just showed up without pre-booking.
Prices: Regular tour and tasting was CLP 16,000 (in 2020) and the Premium Tasting with Gê was CLP 26,000. Wines can also be purchased by the glass starting at CLP 2,000 or by the bottle in the store starting at CLP 6,000.
Contact: +562 2 353 9130 email: firstname.lastname@example.org