The moment you begin researching your trip to Chile, you’ll come across different tours of the Concha Y Toro vineyard. This cloudy, cold July day did not look like a great day to tour fields of grapes, but they say a glass of wine warms the heart on days like these. We bundled up and got in the car for the one hour drive to Pirque, a town about one hour south of Santiago, Chile. My cousin Saverio, our Peruvian friend Cesar and our Chilean friend Manuel joined us on the Concha y Toro vineyard tour.
This was our Argentina and Chile trip, and turned into our wine-drinking trip as well, as we experimented with a variety of Argentine wines and Chilean wines and came home with new favorites.
Viña Concha Y Toro was founded in 1883 by Don Melchor and is now Latin America’s leading producer of wine. Each section of the field is divided by types of grapes. These vines are grafted here specifically for the tour, allowing visitors to see each type while the guide explains them to the group. Sure it’s touristy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
By this time we were cold. Fortunately, the tastings began!
There are plenty of chances to taste Concha Y Toro’s wines on the tour here in Pirque, Chile.
The guide instructed us to hold the wine glass by the stem. Your body heat will change the taste of the wine. Swish the wine in the glass to provoke the aroma and to oxygenate and soften the wine before your first sip.
Hold onto your glasses, we were told. There would be many more tastings and the glasses would be ours at the end of the tour. We also had our elegant bright orange Concha Y Toro boxes to transport the glasses. They made it to NYC without breaking.
We were about to head into Concha Y Toro’s cold, dark caverns.
Wine develops more slowly in this purple glow and low temperature. Once your eyes adjust, you can see the rows of wine barrels along the narrow passageways. The guide told us interesting stories about Don Melchor and Concha Y Toro’s history, as well as explaining the different processes involved in producing wine.
We ate dinner at Concha Y Toro’s restaurant, where we could enjoy a bottle of one of their house wines. The restaurant is expensive but if you go all the way to Chile and you take this tour, you may want to save enough Chilean pesos since this is a very good restaurant. Anyway, it not that expensive.
My cousin Saverio and our friend Cesar chose the wine for us: Camenere 2013. We enjoyed the meal and the conversation. Saverio introduced us to several reasonably-priced restaurants and different excellent wines, all close to his Santiago apartment. Alone in Argentina, we tried the Argentine equivalents. Our favorite ended up being an Argentine Malbec from Viña La Linda.
Tigre, our friendly waiter in Buenos Aires, became serious when we mentioned a Chilean Malbec that we liked and quickly brought us an Argentine Malbec. The rivalry is strong between the two countries. Cesar’s observation was that Ecuadorians want to be like Peruvians and Chileans want to be like Argentinians.
We met Cesar and Manuel on this trip so this enjoyable tour made conversation easy. The wine tasting made it even easier. Manuel taught us a lot about Chilean culture. He is from the south and taught us about his experiences there. Cesar a geologist, like my cousin Saverio. Cesar can speak to you intelligently on such a range of subjects and he’s very cultured.
The Concha Y Toro visit, including dinner, lasted 3 hours. I recommend this fun tour if you’re in Santiago, Chile. If you’re booking a tour from your hotel, ask about the tastings. Many of these tours provide you with just one glass of wine. If there are several of you, you might be better off splitting a taxi and purchasing the tour at Concha Y Toro. The one-hour ride will cost you under $40. An Uber will cost even less.