Corrugated City

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Wine. Grapes. Vineyard Tours. Casablanca Valley. Chile.

Interested in purchasing a vineyard in Chile? Please visit Chile Investments and we will be happy to assist.

At the beginning of February, Michael, a fellow Englishman, from Wine Tours Valparaiso called and asked if he knew anyone who spoke English and who wanted to spend a few days taking tour groups out to the vineyards in the Casablanca Valley, between Valpo and Santiago. I'd met Michael when my Dad came out to visit and had taken a very well received tour with him. I've been at a bit of a loose end since January with work being slow (it's picking up again, thankfully) and waiting on a couple of things so I said I'd help out. I'm glad I did as I had a really fun time. What I was waiting on was to get my website for my consultancy for foreign investors in real estate in Chile (vineyards, fruit farms, residential and commercial property).

I took one group of 10 out to Veramonte and Viña Mar. Both vineyards gave interesting tours and tastings, the latter probably more so than the former. But Veramonte was extremely accomodating when I arrived 45 minutes early after a minor mix up so hats off to them.

I then took two private tours out in my car. First off was a couple that I took to William Cole and then to Emiliana. I really liked both vineyards, especially Emiliana. This is an organic vineyard owned by the Concha y Toro empire. I'm really impressed that they've allowed this organic offshoot to flourish. They now have over 600 hectares in various parts of the country given over to purely organic farming. The tour explains how the land is farmed, organic techniques and finishes, obviously, with the tasting. From the Casablanca Valley, we went on a quick trip to La Moneda and then up Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago and then to the airport. A pretty great way to spend a last day in Chile.

Next, I took a couple of Emiliana and then to Indomita. I was slightly unimpressed by Indomita. They've got a stunning location but the tour was not that great and a friend has had several bad experiences with them. I think they're trying to up their game but out of the vineyards I've visited in Casablanca and down in Colchagua on a personal trip, Indomita offers the worst tour.

*EDIT: I've been back to Indomita a few times now and they've really improved the tour. It's now well worth the trip, although I still really hate the building and the security check point as you drive in is not a great first impression.

I'm generally pretty down on the way tourism is managed here in Chile. It's usually pretty awful. However, the vineyards have really got their acts together and I've been very impressed with them both in Casablanca and down in Colchagua. They're some of the best run operations I've come across in Chile.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, a friend was visiting with her daughter so I offered to give them a lift to Santiago and a quick vineyard tour. So we went back to Emiliana. Kellye was kind enough to buy me a bottle of Emiliana's signature wine, Ge, a wine that is way beyond my maximum wine budget. I drank it with friends overlooking the sea and eating chocolate truffles. It was a thoroughly enjoyable drop.

Wine. Vineyards. Tours. Chile. Casablanca. Wine tours Chile. Valparaiso. Wine tours Casablanca Valley Chile. All nice words.

If you're interested in investing in a vineyard in Chile in Casablanca or Colchagua Valley, then please visit Chile Investments.

Alpacas and hungry geese at Emiliana Organico

Tastings at William Cole


The over-budget, very tasty wine...

...enjoyed particularly by a snooty looking Kitty.

...and friends.

Some photos from Michael's last giant 45 person tour group.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Ascensor Maintenance: Someone Should Have A Word

Following on from previous safety debacles-motorbike bathtub transportation and power line kite flying- I now present men ducking under the tracks of the ascensor.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Fruit and Veg: The Best Thing About Chile

I think my favourite thing about Chile is the quality and quantity of  fresh fruit and veg. The absurdly low prices also help. Ok, so it's not organic but it's all locally produced, seasonal stuff (with the exception of bananas and other tropical fruits).

Unlike Argentina, Chile doesn't export all its best produce, leaving only the dregs behind for local consumption (thanks King and Kween Kirchner for the price controls!). When I lived there, it was common to see piles of semi-rotten produce piled up in the supermarkets (outside of Recoleta of course). The local greengrocers weren't all that much better either. 

The produce this side of the Andes is not only much higher quality but usually much cheaper as well.

At the moment, we're in cherry season. Prices at the markets here in Valpo are 600 pesos per kilo (that's us$0.40 to$1). When I was back in England at Christmas, Chilean cherries were £8-16/kilo (8000-16,000 pesos or us$12-20) and just 250 pesos/kilo in Chile. That's the price for eating fruit out of season, I guess...Although according to info on that forum I linked to, cherries in Argentina are 27 Arg pesos a kilo or 5000 Chilean pesos-us$8/kilo...oh dear.

Here, right now, strawberries are around 500 pesos a kilo. A huge 4-5 kilo red cabbage-400 pesos. Peaches-300 pesos/kilo. Tomatoes-400-800 pesos/kilo. Oranges-80 pesos a kilo when buying a big bag! Seedless black grapes-400 pesos/kilo. Apples-300 pesos/kilo. All of export quality, all better than anything I ever ate in Argentina (especially the tomatoes) and all cheaper than anything I ever ate in Argentina.

And if you like're in for a treat. They go for around 1000 pesos per kilo. Sadly, I can't stand the things.

This is probably the single thing that I most enjoy about living in Chile. It's a quality of life issue and it's something I  truly miss whenever I'm away from this country.

Thursday 5 February 2009

You Know The 80s Are Popular In Chile When...

...even Alpaca look like Wham. Fantastic hair...

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Telly, Journalists, Busy Life

If you can believe it, I've been really busy over the last week or so. For a work shy layabout like myself, it's been hard few days...but I've survived...and I've got 2 or 3 blog postings out of it as well so you're the winners, really.

Firstly, on Saturday, I met up with Shira Lazar. She had got in touch with Kyle from JMCS a couple of weeks back regarding a tv program called something like 'Confessions of a Travel Journalist' for the Travel Channel in the US. The premise for the show is that the cameras would follow a group of 5 travel journalists around Chile in a kind of reality show format. It's not really a travel show in itself, more of a show about travel journalists.

The other 4 journalists worked for various print and online media, including an MTV offshoot, a luxury travel magazine and a culinary magazine. Shira was (and still is) writing for Jaunted (scroll down for stories) a kind of pop travel guide and is also vlogging for another site.

Firstly, the lives of travel journalists are as glamourous and also as totally freaking hectic and nightmarish as you might think. They get to stay in luxury hotels, eat in fantastic restaurants and get everything booked and planned for them...but at the same time, they get hardly any breathing space, no sleep, have a horrible schedule and need vast amounts of patience...especially with a camera crew in tow telling them to repeat conversations 5 times over.

And Shira had it worse as she was the only one who had to do all this crap and post stories every other day. The others were just taking notes...

Described by Jaunted as a 'West Coast Web Media Princess', I have to say I wasn't expecting the most grounded of say the least...but it turned out that Shira was really fun, down to earth and just a genuinely nice person. We had a great time showing her around Valpo.

In the morning we headed down to the market, taking a trole there.

We walked back along Pedro Montt, ducked into the Teatro Imperio...

...and then ate Chorillana and drank beer in Mastodonte.

From there we took Ascensor Concepcion up, had a quick cup of tea in my house, where Shira got a bit of work done...

...and then went to Cementerio de Disidentes and Numero 1.

After that we wandered over to the Ex-Carcel...

...and then down to Plaza Sotomayor where we had planned to take a boat trip around the harbour. Alas, the Queen Mary was in port and hundreds of Chileans had come to take a trip around was too busy to take the trip. The Queen Mary is big...

We then took Ascensor Peral and in front of the Palacio Barburriza we came across the guy with the titeres ecologicos (video).

After that we stopped off for a shifty beer on the terrace of the Zero Hotel before going home for a break.

In the evening we went to Allegretto for pizza and then finished the night off in Epif for more merriment and photo face practice.


I have to say that we had a really fun day- not just with Shira but with the other journalists as well. I think that the Travel Channel is going to have some serious editing to do unless they want their show to get an R Rating. These guys were so funny...from the hilariously jaded luxury travel writer ("Street food is just food for people who can't afford to eat in restaurants for fuck's sake!!) to the uber-gay gay lifestyle website writer who had, shall we say, fun in Valpo, this was an entertaining group.

I'm looking forward to seeing the show...