From the semi-desert near moonscape of rural Mendoza-shire we hopped over the Andes, trying not to think of the film Alive too much, and touched down in Santiago in the late afternoon. We gladly met up with a limping Julio (a recent skiing accident left him with a bad limp – get well soon!) and Jaime, before the relatively simple drive three hours south to their hacienda in the Maule Valley. Driving down the Central Valley’s spinal dual carriageway gave us a good opportunity to see other vineyards from the road and to marvel at the amount of vines and fruit trees planted. Chile has a much greener and more “European” countryside than in Argentina with rolling hills with forests and crops. Arriving as the light was fading gave us a tantalising glimpse of the Mingre estate, but we would have to wait until the morning to properly see it. After a delicious home cooked supper, we retired to the outdoor hot-tub to watch the Southern constellations slowly roll by – all in the name of work!
We were up early for a quick breakfast with delicious freshly squeezed super juice (maybe the secret elixir to long life, it tasted that good). We set off to explore the winery facilities- big stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks for the aromatic whites and French oak barrels for the more serious reds. Then we donned our well used cowboy kit for a horse back tour around the vineyards, the Carmenère leaves turning a beautiful shade of red & orange in the final stages of ripening.