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Pack your bags: Chile (part III)

My previous post illustrated how the Chileans balance traditional art and architecture with modern design in Santiago. As much as I love cities, I was ready to get to the country to experience another aspect of Chile.

My fiance likes to rent a car and drive whenever we travel. This enabled us to see how the locals live outside of the city, as well as find a few incredible spots as we made our way south to the Colchagua Valley. This area produces some of Chile's most popular wines and is within a three hour drive of Santiago.

We learned that business owners are investing in environmentally sustainable farming and modern facilities, but much of the work to harvest and select the grapes is done the old fashioned way - by hand. Having been to Napa Valley, I was expecting that vineyards might use high tech equipment to select and crush the grapes and age the wine. As you can see from the photos below, however, while many vineyards have modern facilities, they still use old world methods.

Neyen Vineyard was our first stop and is located in the Aplata area of the Colchagua Valley. This is one of my favorite wines from the trip. The staff was wonderful and the wine is delicious! Their winemaking facility is very modern and the aging facility (shown in the right portion of the photo) is an old hacienda. They did a great job of balancing traditional practices with modern technology.

After Neyen, we made our way to another vineyard called Montes. It had a spectacular view and the building was designed with close attention to Feng Shui principles. Don't just take my word for it, though, here's a quote from the website: "Douglas Murray, teamed up with the Feng Shui expert, to ensure every basic element was given its rightful place - water, metal, wood, etc. - and was in accordance with this ancient Chinese philosophy which assures harmony in a confident environment. Here are just a few examples:

The wine was delicious and having the tasting with this spectacular view only enhanced it!

Our next and last stop was Lapostolle Vineyard.

The most memorable part of this visit was the architecture and design of the buildings, not the wine. We were met by this unique facade that was designed to look like a barrel.

We later learned that there are 24 wooden beams (to mimic staves of a wine barrel) representing the number of months that the wine ages to achieve the right taste and balance.

Another surprise was that many of the wine makers at these vineyards are women. We were told by one tour guide that women have different palates than men and can taste and develop more complex wines. Women frequently show more flavor creativity, therefore developing unique combinations to make a wine extraordinary. I was excited to see that women have so much influence in making wines that are enjoyed all over the world.

As we drove back to our hotel, after seeing these incredibly modern buildings, we happened to see this homemade aqueduct! It was feeding water to the grape vines that belonged to a new winery.

I love the idea that craftsmen and women are employed in these wineries to find modern and simple ways to create unique visual and sensory experiences. While they have brought in technology and modern practices to help make wine, there's still a rustic and homey aspect to this valley. I hope after reading this series, you are thinking of including Chile on your list of places to visit! You won't be disappointed.

What are some places you've visited that have surprised and inspired you?

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']#[/author_image] [author_info]Amy is a friend of House Party. She was the VP of Consumer Marketing until early 2012. Originally from Connecticut, she currently resides in New York City. Bitten by the travel bug, Amy is never far from her passport and dreams of temporarily living in Guatemala to learn Spanish. She's a very active and health-conscious person and spends her weekends entertaining family and friends. She loves to cook and is always looking for new recipes, so don't be shy. Amy's party tip: know how to make a clean exit.[/author_info] [/author]

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