Messina Hof Chile Trip 2015- Santa Cruz


Messina Hof Chile Trip 2015 – Santa Cruz

-By Mike Vidrine

mike vidrine

February 8th, 2015 – Sunday

Back on the bus after lunch and on to Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).

This drive was on the Pan American highway, which supposedly runs from Alaska to Southern Chile. The hotel and its associated casino and museum, was built by a former arms dealer from Chile. The hotel is quite nice but our rooms were in the most outback building – I suspect they wanted to keep the noisy Texans as far away as possible. I had the pastel de choclo for dinner – a typical Chilean dish which is basically a corn casserole with various meats and a boiled egg inserted. Our table shared 5 of our own bottles of wine and of course we had the obligatory pisco sour before the meal.

February 9th, 2015 – Monday

Viu Manet is the first winery today. After a short horse drawn carriage ride we started the winery tour. They make about 2.4 million liters per year. They use a combination of stainless steel, concrete and egg concrete tanks. They use primarily French oak barrels and 10% American oak for a softer flavor. Wine tasting was back in the reception area. Wanda and I particularly liked the Sauvignon Blanc and the single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon “La Capilla”.

Group at Viu Manet

Group tasting at Viu Manet

They grow a lot of table grapes in Chile and we saw examples of their overhead trellising here and sampled a few grapes.

Lapostolle winery was up next – owned by the same folks that own Grand Marnier. Vines here are really planted very densely. They appear to be planted only 18″ apart in the row and rows close together as well with the vines maintained at only about 4 feet tall.

Aggies in the vineyard!

This is a very large winery and we were actually at a small production facility – the Clos Apalta winery in Apalta valley. This is a rather new facility and very nice. The winery itself is built vertically and is dug down into the bedrock – 5 levels overall. This valley grows Carmenere, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Carmenere is an old French grape that was thought lost until rediscovered in Chile. They grow a lot of it in this country. Lapostelle produces 2.5 million bottles/year but Clos Apalta only produces about 2% of that total.

Horse drawn carriage to winery production facility.

They follow moon cycles to determine fertilization schedules. The barrel room is in the shape of a cross – esthetics and bio-dynamics, where they keep the wine for a year in the barrel then on to blending. Only 120 barrels are used -the rest goes on to the main winery. The owner’s cellar is at the bottom of the excavation. We were above it in the tasting room and could see it through a glass top table where we tasted the wines. We tasted Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, high end blend Carmenere, cab sauvignon and merlot.

The lunch locale was in the vineyard and under an arbor with 100+ year old vines. I think perhaps the best ambience of the trip. I would love to have an arbor like this. We had a big lunch, naturally with wine. We actually didn’t finish lunch until almost 5:00 PM.

Perfect lunch at Lapostolle

February 10th, 2015 – Tuesday

In the central region of Chile – including Santa Cruz – the local cowboys are known as huaso. The huaso wear a distinctive flat hat much like our western hats but with a fairly wide brim and with the brim kept flat. We saw quite a few during our various travels.

We passed a number of olive groves. One version had olives planted at 1 meter spacing and just far enough apart to get machinery through. It sort of reminded me of the espaliered fruits they are now growing in Washington. I suspect the olives will be mechanically trimmed and harvested.