Viña San Esteban, Los Andes

On Saturday I had the pleasure to go to Viña San Esteban right outside of Los Andes, which is in the V Region, north of Santiago. Even though it was hot and sunny and I now have a sexy farmer’s tan (despite multiple applications of sunscreen), it was one of the best vineyard experiences I’ve had in Chile. I have a hunch that is because before now I’ve always gone in the off season. I first went to Concho y Toro with my mom in June 2007, and the vines were brown and empty. I remember I made the mistake of saying they looked dead and the guide was quick to correct me. They are just resting. Then I went to Cousiño Macul in late May 2009 with my mom and sister. Although the tour was very informative with beautiful old grounds right in Santiago, again, it was the beginning of winter and there was no activity at the vineyard. Recently, I went with Heather and Eileen to Santa Rita in the Maipo valley south of Santiago. Even though I had a great time (I was in good company) and the vines were green and heavy with unripe grapes, the vendimia (grape harvest) had not started yet.

Viña San Esteban

Me and my basket overflowing with Syrah

Today, not only were the grapes ripe to be harvested, we actually got to participate in the process! We were given aprons and hats, gloves and scissors, and sent off two to a row to cut the grapes. It was really fun and when the guide said it was time to stop I didn’t want to! My partner and I were quite industrious and insisted on finishing the row before turning in our scissors.

Viña San Esteban

The cart full of the grapes we all picked

Then we hiked a little ways up a small hill to enjoy the beautiful view of the Aconcagua Valley and see some pre-Incan and Incan petroglyphs.

Viña San Esteban

The vineyard and the surprisingly attractive irrigation lagoon in the Aconcagua Valley

Viña San Esteban

More of Aconcagua Valley

Viña San Esteban

Petroglyphs from before 1400 AD. I think the one on the right looks like a lizard.

After that, we walked quite a ways down the mountain, and just when I thought I couldn’t walk anymore, we arrived to the tasting area, which had a gorgeous view. We were served cheese, olives, dried fruit, bread with pebre and giant red grapes. And of course, we tried four different wines: a Chardonnay, a Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon ensemble, a Carmenére and the vineyard’s signature wine, In Situ Laguna del Inca, which is a mix of the best harvests of the year. The one we tried was Syrah, Carmenére and Cabernet Sauvignon. I liked all the wines, but my favorite was the Syrah-Cabernet ensemble.

Viña San Esteban

Our view from the tasting area

Viña San Esteban

The beautiful tasting area

Viña San Esteban

My life is hard

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find San Esteban’s wines in Chile, as more than 90% are exported to North America, Europe and Asia. But luckily I was smart enough to nab a couple of bottles from the gift shop. 🙂

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On Networking

Last night Eileen invited me to the Santiago Travel Tweetup, and on a whim I decided to go, considering it was close by and I had nothing else to do. Besides, I like hanging out with Eileen and it beat studying for the GRE (see, even without Facebook I find ways to distract myself!)

Turns out, it was a good time, and I got some good contacts for work.

But man, being with lots of people tires me out. If I wasn’t already convinced before, I now know that I’m truly an introvert.

And I don’t really like networking.

See, deep down, I’m a shy person. I always find it awkward to just go up to people and ask what they do, why they are there, etc. However, I soon realized, that because of my line of work, I wold mostly be the customer for all of these travel businesses. I mean, I guess I could promote this little blog, but honestly, that doesn’t really interest me. I have this blog because I like it, not because I’m counting the number of page views or trying to get ad revenue.

Anyway, once I figured out that most people there needed to be “selling” me something, it was easier. And I gave away a ton of my beautiful business cards. And then my feet were tired and I came home.

Now I’ve had my fill of people for at least a week, so if you don’t see me for awhile, you know why. 😉